Veteran DeMar DeRozan brings a needed calm to the Bulls
DeRozan has been showcasing a lot of talent on the court, but his best trait just might be the calm and poise he brings to his teammates.
PHILADELPHIA — There’s a much-needed calm to Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan.
It’s not laid-back, California cool as much as it’s a veteran player letting his teammates know, ‘‘If you fall, I’ve got you.’’
DeRozan has brought a ton of intangibles to the Bulls, but his calm might be the most important so far. The team’s comeback victory Monday in Boston was just the latest example of it.
‘‘I would say he’s incredibly poised,’’ coach Billy Donovan said of DeRozan. ‘‘He does not get out of sorts at all. And I think he’s great for our team; I think he’s great for Zach [LaVine].
‘‘I could tell Zach was pressing a little bit [Monday] when shots weren’t falling. A couple of times he was too aggressive and had an opportunity to pass it to some guys. But I think having a guy like DeMar out there, he plays with a pace and a tempo and a poise. You never take him out of what he’s doing.
‘‘He’s a guy that has experienced a lot individually with the way his career has been and also has experienced a lot of winning, so he has been in a lot of different situations.’’
So with his team on the road and trailing by 19 points with just about 14 minutes left? Been there, done that.
‘‘I’ve been in a lot of games being down big on the road, seeing things happen that’s possible,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘For me, it’s just keeping that calm, not getting rattled and sharing whatever experience I can to kind of keep us together, as well.’’
He not only kept the Bulls together in their improbable 14-point victory against the Celtics, but he kept things afloat while LaVine was working through some shooting issues in the first half.
It wasn’t the first time DeRozan has sensed he has had to do that, and it won’t be the last.
LaVine now has played three games with torn ligaments in his left thumb and has been shaky early in the last two as he figures out how hard to push the injury.
In the Bulls’ home victory Saturday against the Jazz, LaVine went 4-for-9 in the first half. DeRozan scored 16 points in the first half and 32 in the game.
Against the Celtics, LaVine was 1-for-6 and had four points at the half before finishing 9-for-20 and scoring 26 points. DeRozan had 21 points at the half and finished with 37.
DeRozan kind of has served as the older brother holding down the fort while the younger brother works through the bumps and bruises.
‘‘Yeah, just a sense for me,’’ DeRozan said when he was asked whether he’s going out there and looking to take the pressure off LaVine early in games. ‘‘Still incredible the things he’s able to do with his thumb. The more he gets comfortable with it, the easier my job will be and vice versa. I try and make it easy on him, as well. Just continue to learn each other. He’s an incredible basketball player but even a [better] human being.’’
The same can be said about DeRozan, Donovan said. That’s why the Bulls were eager to add him to the mix during the offseason.
‘‘I feel like when you watch these guys on film — his time in Toronto, his time in San Antonio — you watch and you try and see: ‘OK, what does he like? What doesn’t he like?’ ’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Unfortunately, I don’t think people get to see what kind of person he is. He’s a great guy, a team guy, really humble. I love working with him.’’