DeRozan strikes again
Happy New Year to all!! The Chicago Bulls (23-10) fly into the capitol to take on the Washington Wizards (18-17) in the second game of a back to back road trip and their 1st game of 2022. How much has last night's dramatic win over the Pacers taken out of Bulls? Can they carry on to extend their win streak to 7? Personally before the start of the game I can see this being a tough game and a possible loss. I hope I'm wrong.
Wizards have a few players in Protocols including Spencer Dinwiddie and Montrezl Harrell. But they do have recently waived Bulls player Alize Johnson amongst the ranks on a 10 day deal. For the Bulls the loss of Javonte Green through a groin/abductor injury gives Derrick Jones Jr the start.
A frustrating 1st quarter from the Bulls sees them down 32-25 at the end of it. Zach LaVine carrying the team so far with 15 points, 5-8 FGs 4-5 3s. Also included a 4 point play after being fouled on a 3. DeMar DeRozan and Nicola Vucevic struggling with a combined 2-10 FGs, DeRozan also missing his 1st 2 FTs and defensively it was no better as it seemed every attack to the rim resulted in an and-1 for the Wizards. Bulls defence looking all out at sea and became scared to guard their man in fear of another foul.
The second doesn't start any better with Tyler Cook having to be helped off the court with a ankle injury.
The Bulls providing no D around the paint resulting in the Wizards getting easy buckets. The Bulls finish the half down 64-55 and the Bulls look tired during this first half performance. The only one who's doing well is Zach LaVine who has 23 pts (denied a buzzer beating 3) 7-13 FGs, 5-7 3s. LaVine appears to be doing it all himself for the Bulls. DeRozan finishes the half with 11 points but he just doesn't look right (4-10 FGs) and the Bulls have turned it over 10 times giving the Wizards 13 points. Kyle Kuzma leads the way for Wizards with 16pts, 6-9 FGs and a highlight flop LeBron James would have been proud of. Tyler Cook won't return for the game with his ankle injury which doesn't help the struggling D.
Into the 2nd half and the Bulls come out hot! The quarter finishes with Bulls down 88-86 and Zach LaVine with only 3 points in the quarter after a great first half. But Coby White is going about his business quietly with 18 pts, 4-7 3s as well as DeMar DeRozan who has 19 pts and will be hoping to be the 4th quarter King again.
A bucket from Troy Brown Jr with 4:20 left in the quarter was the 1st bucket from a bench player. Defensively Ayo Dosunmu came up with some solid D on Bradley Beal to finish the quarter and the 4th quarter sees the Bulls adopt their earlier form and all of a sudden they're down 8 again. With 10 minutes left the Wizards have 58 pts in the paint.....Bulls a poor 18. The Bulls tie the game with 2 minutes left then take their 1st lead since the 1st quarter which leads to a 1 point game going into the last minute. Kyle Kuzma drops a 3 with 4 seconds left to give the Wizards the lead 119-117 and the Bulls take a timeout. Last seconds and Coby White with the inbound to DeMar DeRozan....it can't be, it can't happen again???
IT DOES, DEMAR DEROZAN WITH THE BUZZER BEATING 3!!!!!!! Bulls win 120-119 after ANOTHER DeMar DeRozan buzzer beater 3 to win it for the second night in a row.
Statistically Zach LaVine takes the game and he was key for the Bulls 1st half:
DeMar DeRozan seems to have another poor night but that doesn't matter after coming in clutch again, with 28 pts and a buzzer beating 3 for the second night in a row. 1-1 from 3 (But what a 3). Coby White has his second game in a row with 20 points and a game that for many will go un-noticed due to the finish but he was solid on the D again with some massive defensive plays towards the end. He finishes with 20pts 7-14 FGs 4-8 3s. Nicola Vucevic has another double-double with 22 pts, 12 Rebs.
Bulls didn't look like they would take anything from this, but this team is different. 2 nights in a row DeMar DeRozan has made me fall off the settee in shear joy and delight. I'm still shaking typing this up and it's 3am here in the UK, how do I sleep now??? Bulls are back at the UC on Monday to take on the Orlando Magic. Coach Billy Donovan is due back, so special shout out to Chris Fleming who covered well and sits back with a winning NBA record.
-Matt H (Twitter:@matthearn1)