DeMar DeRozan scores 37 as Bulls roar back to beat Celtics
The veteran forward helped the Bulls overcome a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter at TD Garden. The Bulls outscored the Celts 39-11 in the fourth quarter.
BOSTON — DeMar DeRozan just had a sense.
If he joined the Bulls in the offseason, he had a feeling he would be thrown in with a bunch of players with mindsets similar to his. That mindset requires a large-sized chip sitting firmly on a shoulder.
That’s how a team overcomes a 19-point deficit at TD Garden.
“That was the reason I came [here in the summer], the conversation I had with the front office,’’ DeRozan said after the Bulls’ 128-114 victory Monday. “I felt it, I sensed it, I understood it, and as a competitor, it’s something I wanted to be a part of.
“To me, it didn’t seem like words. Everyone has been willing to put in the actions, understanding that nothing is going to be perfect, but everyone is willing and wants to win. You see it in the preparation, behind the scenes where nobody gets to see. It carries over to the court.’’
The Celtics wouldn’t argue with that. They went from being in the driver’s seat heading into the fourth quarter to being outscored 39-11.
DeRozan had 37 points and went 15-for-20 from the field, and second-round pick Ayo Dosunmu, who was projected to get most of his early minutes in the G League, had a perfect shooting night.
The former Morgan Park standout played 22 minutes and had 14 points, including a huge three-pointer in the midst of the rally. He went 6-for-6 from the field.
Coach Billy Donovan called Dosunmu “fearless’’ once again.
“My motto is just fear God, so I don’t fear anything but God,’’ Dosunmu said. “When I go out there and compete, I trust in what I can do. And I just wanted to go out there and play hard.’’
The second unit did that all night for the Bulls (6-1). The starters? There was a definite give-and-take, and it started with some serious taking.
The first four-plus minutes couldn’t have gone any better for the Bulls offensively. DeRozan began the long-range onslaught with a 27-foot three-pointer, seemingly sparking a game of horse between him and his teammates.
Lonzo Ball made a three, followed by Nikola Vucevic, two more from Ball, then back to DeRozan. When the net stopped smoking, the Bulls were 6-for-7 from three-point range to open the first quarter — mixing in an alley-oop dunk by Javonte Green — and had built a quick 20-11 lead.
But the Celtics withstood the flurry, then answered with a flurry of their own. The Bulls’ lead was down to one in about three minutes.
By the end of the first quarter, the Celtics had grabbed a one-point lead, which they built up to 19 with 2:28 left in the third quarter.
That’s about when that chip on the shoulder that DeRozan talked about really kicked in.
Zach LaVine awoke from his slow start, while the defense continued to make life difficult for Boston (2-5) inside and outside.
Dosunmu’s three-pointer with 6:54 left gave the Bulls their first lead since the second quarter, and the snowball just kept rolling.
“Just being resilient,’’ DeRozan said of the comeback. “I knew we weren’t going to lay down for any reason.’’