‘Death, taxes and DeRozan’: Bulls veteran continues his takeover
The game-winner against the Hawks was just another highlight in DeMar DeRozan’s MVP push, and new Bull Tristan Thompson is a big believer in his teammate getting recognition when the voting begins.
Veteran big man Tristan Thompson calls him the “Smooth Criminal.’’
The organization’s social-media department labeled him “King in the Fourth.’’
His teammates simply call him “Deebo.’’
With the Bulls down by three with 46.9 seconds left, DeRozan closed the deficit to one with — what else? — a midrange jumper. Then after a stop, the ball was in DeRozan’s hands with 23 seconds left, and even though he was double-teamed and Zach LaVine was wide open, he made a 14-footer and drew a foul with 15.1 seconds left.
When the dust settled, DeRozan had an efficient 37 points, going 15-for-21 from the field.
Death, taxes, DeRozan.
To get a feel for what DeRozan, 32, has accomplished during this streak, all you have to do is look at the exclusive company he has joined. DeRozan is one of seven players in NBA history with eight consecutive games of at least 35 points. But if you dig deeper into the numbers, his run becomes even more impressive.
Take Michael Jordan’s 10-game streak of at least 35 points in the 1986-87 season. Jordan averaged 41.1 points during that run, making 15.3 shots per game and taking 32.1 for a 48% clip. In one of those games, Jordan took 43 shots.
DeRozan is averaging 38.4 points per game on 24.2 shots and is shooting 62% from the field during this run. He only reached the 30-shot mark once.
And the Bulls went 3-7 during Jordan’s shooting binge; the Bulls are 6-2 during DeRozan’s scintillating stretch.
That’s why the newest Bull was pushing for “Death and Taxes’’ to be the MVP.
“Like I said in the interview [on Wednesday], in my eyes he’s the MVP of our league,’’ Thompson said. “He’s playing at an MVP level. People need to give him his credit and give him his flowers because of what he’s able to do with this team. When things are getting stagnant, and we need a big bucket or a big-time shot, that’s what big-time players do.’’
And DeRozan has been big-time, leading the NBA with 455 points in the fourth quarter; Giannis Antetokounmpo is second with 400 points. Antetokounmpo has a slightly better shooting percentage than DeRozan in the fourth — 57.1% to 55.8% — but DeRozan has more assists than the “Greek Freak’’ and is an eye-popping plus-121 in the quarter.
“You love it, and you hate it,’’ DeRozan said of having to win games late. “Of course, you don’t want to be down and have the pressure on yourself to try to pull out a game. But when you’re in those moments, you’ve got to take it on. I love the moments. I love the challenge. I love the opportunity. It’s fun to me.’’
That’s MVP-type talk and action, and Thompson would know. He played with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving back in the day.
“I’ve played with some big-time players,’’ Thompson said. “When it’s money time, you give them the ball, and they make something happen. That’s what [DeRozan has] been doing night in and night out. On Thursday, we were down four with under two minutes left, and Javonte [Green] got the rebound and made those free throws, and DeMar got the and-one. That’s what the MVP of the league does. We’re going to do our best to keep riding that horse. It’s a blessing to be watching greatness.’’