The DeMar DeRozan Story Just Keeps Getting Better

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The DeMar DeRozan Story Just Keeps Getting Better

Chicago Bulls

DeMar DeRozan carefully dribbled to the left elbow with Nicolas Batum riding his hip and Ivica Zubac backtracking. The two players were standing ready to contest, and it couldn’t have mattered less. The ball might as well had been through the net before DeRozan left his feet.

From that 4:39 mark in the 4th quarter until the end of OT, DeRozan single-handedly outscored the Los Angeles Clippers 24-23. As a whole, the Chicago Bulls finished the game on a 39-23 run en route to an absurdly clutch 135-130 victory. Zach LaVine snatched the game ball as he walked off the court, and the moment DeRozan put his mitts on it in the locker room, he was drenched in a celebration of water and hollers.

DeRozan should have walked off the floor elated with the second 50-point game of his career. He should have walked off the floor ready for the massive celebration that followed. Instead, he walked off the floor apologizing, letting his head coach know the game should have never needed an extra 5 minutes.

“He’s unbelievable, the guy after the game says to me, ‘I’m sorry for missing the free throw,’” head coach Billy Donovan told reporters after the game. “I’m like, ‘DeMar, we wouldn’t have been in overtime if it wasn’t for the things you did.’ He was great.”

Despite back-to-back game-winning buzzer-beaters and multiple 19-point 4th quarter efforts, DeRozan has kept dropping jaws. The way in which he demolished the Clippers’ 8th-ranked defense possession after possession was as romantic as it was vicious (kind of like my girlfriend … but don’t tell her I said that). Everyone in the United Center and everyone at home knew exactly where the ball was going more often than not, and I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that’s how DeRozan wanted it.

DeRozan has scored 604 fourth-quarter points this season. Not only is that the most in the NBA, but it’s 104 more points than the next closest player in two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. His 54.9 percent field goal percentage is the second-highest among players who have scored at least 300 pts this season in the final frame. I know, ridiculous.

DeRozan earned 27 of his 50 points last night in the 4th quarter and overtime. The oath he appears to have made with the clutch gods has officially put him over the 2000-point threshold this season, and it’s only the second time he’s met that mark in his career. He’s now just one point away from passing his career-high for points in a single season (2,020 in 2016-17).

“It means a lot,” DeRozan said when asked about the accomplishment. “It means you can get better with age, I guess. Just because you’re getting older don’t mean you have to slow down in any type of way. It just shows my work ethic. Me just taking care of myself physically, and just always trying to be better than I was before.”

I can’t help but get lost in DeRozan’s growing Bulls legacy. A player once labeled an out-of-touch and out-of-mind All-Star, he came to Chicago with doubts following like baby ducklings. He was pinned as one of the worst free-agent signings across the NBA landscape, and the Bulls were pinned as a borderline Play-In Tournament team by some.

Yet, through all the noise, the 32-year-old veteran became the NBA’s leading scorer, an All-Star starter, and a clear-cut All-NBA First Team candidate. Even more importantly, he brought the franchise along with him, acting like that’s all he ever wanted to do.

Look, I don’t know how this season will end. While the Bulls should steer clear of a catastrophic plummet into the Play-In Tournament (*knocks aggressively on wood*), they could still be a first-round exit waiting to happen. But what I do know is that what we’ve seen from DeRozan this season will live on as an entirely separate story altogether. He’s produced the kind of performance that Bulls fans will never forget, and I can’t get enough of it.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.