After scoring just nine points on Wednesday, DeMar DeRozan bounced back and nearly carried the Chicago Bulls to a win on the road. He had 46 points while attempting 22 free throws but it ultimately wasn’t enough in a 123-119 loss to the Boston Celtics.
Despite being outplayed for much of the second half, Chicago made things interesting late in the fourth quarter. Thanks to some clutch shots from Nikola Vucevic and DeRozan along with Zach LaVine getting to the free throw line, the Bulls had a chance to tie the game up multiple times after being down for a majority of it.
However they never could reach Boston. A sequence combining a missed rebound by Patrick Williams followed up by a chaotic offensive possession which saw him get stripped by Al Horford ultimately sealed Chicago’s fate.
Marcus Smart seems to always make small but vital winning plays in crunch time. Watch him use the swim move around Vucevic and keep the rebound alive for Tatum. pic.twitter.com/lzNwLO9t6T— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) November 5, 2022
As a team, the Bulls box score looks a lot better than it should have given how much of it was a one man show. They shot 51 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep. They shot 25 free throws, though it was only from a combined two players. They only had 21 assists on their 43 made baskets, and 17 turnovers.
To put it simply, it was another DeRozan classic performance. He was getting to his spots and splashing mid-range jumpers when given even the slightest bit of space. DeRozan was even hitting contested shots with defenders in his face along with doing his best to draw contact. He added five assists and three rebounds along with two steals. He was marvelous in this game and whenever he was off the court, the offense stalled. This was a great get right game for DeRozan, especially after his performance against the Hornets.
Vucevic was the second leading scorer in this one with a double double of 24 points and 12 rebounds. He went four of five from downtown and added three assists. Vucevic had some trouble against Boston’s bigs but turned it on late offensively, giving Chicago life with some much needed buckets.
Zach LaVine looked a bit rusty out there, struggling to drive into the paint for much of the game. When he did, he was drawing contact and making things happen at the free throw line. His jump shot looked alright as he knocked down jumpshots, even step backs with ease. LaVine went six of 13 from the field and made an impact on the boards with seven rebounds. Despite his late onslaught, it was still a rough overall game given the slow start he had.
Patrick Williams will be much talked about given his play in crunch time, but overall was pretty good though most of it was from a hot start. He finished with seven points, five rebounds and went three of nine from the field. Williams had four turnovers and fouled out with less than a minute to go. His defense was solid as he did all he could to try and slow down Jayson Tatum when matched up. The hope is that this will be a learning experience from the young player and while it’s good to see him being aggressive, he has to clean up his mistakes. There is also the question of if he should have even been out there when the game is on the line. We have seen other closing lineups this year which don’t involve Williams, and you could argue he proved he wasn’t ready.
The bench, stalwarts for much of the season and after carrying the Bulls to victory in their last game, didn’t have a good night. They got thoroughly outplayed by the Celtics reserves, being outscored 41 to 15, with no single player scoring more than five points.
Boston was led by the 36 points from Jason Tatum plus 25 off the bench from Malcolm Brogdon. Jaylen Brown added 16 points as the Celtics survived a poor shooting night from three (29 percent).
This was a tough loss for the Bulls given how close they made it late. It was mostly the DeRozan show, and it’s clear Chicago needs a more balanced offense going forward. DeMar can surely put up points but he can’t be the only one generating his own shot. The Bulls need better play from their other top guys and role players in matchups against the better teams in the league. Boston played very well overall, and in the face of that the Bulls battled and fought till the end, which is always a positive but they need a more complete performance and not just a furious late game rally. Their next game comes Sunday against Toronto.