The Chicago Bulls nearly pulled off the upset. The Bulls entered Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff game with the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks as double-digit underdogs. Beating the defending NBA champs would have been one thing, but how they almost did it is another. Bulls All-star DeMar DeRozan was almost invisible.
The Bulls held a lead in the fourth quarter despite a woeful shooting performance. They erased a 16-point deficit and found themselves in the game. DeRozan struggled mightily in the fourth quarter, going the first 10 minutes without a basket. The Bulls star made a promise ahead of Wednesday night’s Game 2.
DeMar DeRozan wasn’t the only one who shot poorly for the Chicago Bulls
The opportunity was there for the Bulls in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee also shot poorly and the Bulls capitalized. With 5:56 remaining, center Nikola Vucevic gave the Bulls a 78-77 lead, but Chicago managed just 15 points in the quarter. For the game, the Bulls shot 32.3% from the floor, but somehow managed to hang around.
For Chicago, that can be painful, knowing they may have let one get away. It can also be promising, knowing they hung with the reigning champs despite a poor offensive night.
“I thought we did a good job with us shooting this way and defending the way we did, keeping the game going,” Zach LaVine said, per The Chicago Tribune. “We had a lot of missed opportunities.”
LaVine went 6-for-19 from the floor, and DeRozan went 6-for-25. Vucevic wasn’t much better, making nine of 27 shots. Despite their top three players shooting 21-for-71, the Bulls remained within striking distance late in the fourth quarter.
DeMar DeRozan makes a promise ahead of Game 2
DeRozan made quite an impression in his first year with the Bulls, averaging a career-high 27.9 points. He shot 50.4% from the floor and returned to the NBA All-Star Game after a three-year absence.
DeRozan formed a nice trio with Lavine and Vucevic to help the Bulls return to the postseason after a four-year drought. He knows how close his Bulls came to pulling off the upset Sunday, and he promises there is no way he’ll shoot the way he did that night.
“I don’t know what the hell is going on,” DeRozan said. “Every shot I took felt good. I guarantee me or Zach or Vooch aren’t going to miss that many shots again.
“Most of the shots I took were wide open. Wide open. No way in hell I shoot 6 for 25 again.”
DeRozan finished with 18 points but went 1-for-7 in the fourth quarter when the team needed him most.
The Bulls know they can hang with the Bucks
Sunday’s game was ugly all around. The teams combined to go 17-for75 from three-point land. Neither team broke 100 points.
While the Bulls did shoot poorly, they dug themselves an early hole as the Bucks scored the first nine points of the game. DeRozan said he knew the Bucks would go on a run at some points, getting their crowd into the game. He said they had to keep their composure and withstand the run.
“We’ve had conversations all week about just staying together,” DeRozan said. “There’s going to be parts of the game where it’s going to get hectic, they’re going to hit some shots, the crowd’s going to get into it and we’ve got to pull together. We’ve got to stay the same.
“We were prepared for it. It sucked that it happened in the first couple minutes of the game, but we were ready for it and buckled down after that.”
Although it was an ugly night for the Bulls, it may actually have been the confidence-builder they needed.