The Bulls were back home after a 5 game road trip, welcoming a tough opponent in the Clippers with their newly-returned star Paul George. And while the Bulls continued their defensive slide in the second half of the season, another spectacular DeMar Derozan performance got them the victory in a 135-130 score after overtime.
DeRozan finished with an even 50 after a last-second gimme basket, and he had 10 in the overtime period alone. DeRozan also assisted this huge Patrick Williams corner three in the final minute.
That was DeRozan’s 6th assist, and his final numbers also included just 2 turnovers in 43 minutes, shooting 17-26 from the field making both of his three point attempts and going a DeRozan-ian 14-15 from the free throw line.
Crazily, that single free throw miss was at the end of regulation and would’ve won the game outright for the Bulls.
Clippers implode with seconds left in the game. Paul George Fouls DeMar DeRozan on a 3-pointer. DeMar makes 2 to send it to OT. pic.twitter.com/ID0uajVBGf— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) April 1, 2022
The Bulls had struggled to contain the Clippers offense all night and were down ten entering the fourth and at worst faced a 16-point deficit, but a combination of the Bulls doing just enough to hang around and a bit of L.A. collapsing brought it to those crunch-time moments. In the final period, the Bulls shot 55% from the field while the Clippers were 37%.
For the game, the Clippers were actually nearly there with the Bulls in free-throw attempts (26 to 32) and, like most teams, out-shot the Bulls from distance (Bulls with just 10 makes to the Clippers 16), but a the Bulls were able to simply get a lot more attempts due to a slight edge in turnovers but a massive one in rebounding: The Bulls got over 26% of available offensive rebounds while they kept the Clippers off the glass to where they only had 4 offensive boards (9.8%) all game.
Individually, the Bulls got 20+ point nights from LaVine and Vucevic, and unexpected late contributions from Patrick Williams. Beyond that huge three shown above, Williams took 21 minutes to attempt his first shot, but he wound up not missing all night going 4-4 for 10 points, including these two extra fun ones:
Williams played 37 minutes as he started the 2nd half in place of Alex Caruso. Caruso has been playing hurt since coming back (he hits the floor a lot!) but he did play in the 2nd half so this looks to be a matchup play by Billy Donovan. I have been skeptical that playing Williams more would help much given his performance, but it certainly paid off with the added size contributing to dominating the glass and these timely baskets while defenses were focused on DeRozan.
This win feels good, though it doesn’t really change much. The Cavaliers were never going to catch them in their current state, and they indeed lost again tonight to put them now 3 games behind the Bulls. Maybe it just solidifies the formula that as long as DeRozan plays like Wilt Chamberlain they can beat anyone. Both their jockeying with the Raptors for the 5 or 6 seed, and the top-4 seeds, are all very much up in the air with just 10 days left in the season.