One night after authoring the “New Year’s Eve Heave,” DeMar DeRozan sank a 24-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Bulls to a 120-119 victory over the Wizards Saturday.
The victory extended the Bulls’ season-long winning streak to seven games. They’re also now a game ahead of Brooklyn after the Nets’ 120-116 loss to the Clippers.
The Bulls (24-10) were trailing 119-117 with 3.3 seconds on the clock when DeRozan took one dribble off an inbounds pass from Coby White, pump-faked Corey Kispert into the air, and launched the game-winner over the outstretched arms of Bradley Beal.
Per Basketball Reference, DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to hit game-winning buzzer-beaters on back-to-back nights.
The Bulls trailed by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter but clawed back to tie the game at 112 after Nikola Vucevic converted a three-point play at the 2:07 mark. Zach LaVine’s seventh triple of the game gave the Bulls a 115-114 advantage on their next possession.
DeRozan and Bradley Beal then traded a pair of free throws before Kyle Kuzma drilled a three-pointer to set up the thrilling finale.
DeRozan finished with 28 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. White followed up the season-high 24 points he put up against the Pacers Friday with 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field and 4-for-8 shooting from deep. To say nothing of his defensive effort that went beyond his one steal.
New Year’s Eve Hangover?
The Bulls crawled out of the gate in this one. They committed 10 turnovers and surrendered 34 points in the paint to the Wizards in the first half.
Vucevic (1-for-4 with three turnovers) and DeRozan (1-for-6 with one turnover) got off to particularly slow starts in the first quarter. But LaVine (35 points, five rebounds, and three assists) kept the Bulls within striking distance. He shot 7-for-13 from the field, including 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, and finished the first half with 23 points.
Chicago also lost Tyler Cook to a rolled ankle in the opening minutes of the second quarter. With Tony Bradley (health and safety protocols) and Javonte Green (hip adductor strain) already missing from the frontcourt, Cook’s absence was more damning than it would’ve otherwise been.
The Bulls took better care of the ball in the second half (six turnovers) but were virtually turnstiles on the perimeter without Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Green. For the game, the Bulls gave up 72 points in the paint. Kuzma, who came into the game averaging 13 points, scored the bulk of his team-high 29 points by knifing his way into the lane.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls will go for their eighth straight victory when they host the Magic (7-29) Monday. Tip-off is at 7 PM CST and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.
Be sure to check out the Bulls On Tap podcast for further postgame reaction as well as Chicago basketball analysis and commentary all season.