DeMar DeRozan is hoping the Chicago Bulls’ erratic start to the season will translate into consistent production.
“We had some bad moments, lost two games in a row, dropped games that we thought we should have won. “We’ve already gone through so many emotions in 20 games in the season. Sometimes that’s an advantage. You have to absorb this pain.”
The Bulls have clinched perhaps their best win, winning back-to-back games, and look to continue their momentum against host Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
Even during Chicago’s four-game losing streak, which included a home loss to Orlando that preceded their current winning streak, DeRozan made it big.
In his last six games, the veteran forward averaged 30.3 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor.
DeRozan’s impact goes well beyond the bare numbers, Bulls coach Billy Donovan said after his team’s 118-113 win in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
“He’s really a special player on many different levels,” said Donovan. “He’s very, very unique in a special way because he has so many incredible qualities that make him the player he is.”
DeRozan had 36 points on 14-of-24 shooting and added eight assists in the win over the Bucks that started Chicago’s six-game road trip season.
Chicago’s Goran Dragic missed Wednesday’s game with a left cervical stinger, paving the way for Coby White to see an expanded role.
Donovan praised White’s resilience after missing the first eight games in November through injury and working his way through fights upon his return.
With victories over the Bucks and the Celtics during their current winning streak, the Bulls have beaten the two teams with the NBA’s best records.
While Chicago has been playing better lately, the Thunder have struggled.
Oklahoma City has lost three straight games and eight of the last 11.
On Wednesday night, the Thunder fought back from a 19-point deficit and took a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter before Denver forced overtime and eventually won 131-126.
Oklahoma City continues to struggle on defense after falling to 24th in the league in the top 10 in defensive standings earlier this month.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault is confident his side can return to defending like they did at the start of the season.
“These guys want to win. If effort was a problem, the pace wouldn’t be as good as it is,” Daigneault said of his team’s defense.
Thunder reserve guard Isaiah Joe has a career-best 21-point performance, which saw him hit 7-of-10 from beyond the arc in the loss to the Nuggets.
“All credit goes to my teammates who can find me and trust me to get the shots off,” said Joe. “Every time I get a shot, it’s backed up.”
Friday’s meeting is the first of two meetings between the teams this season.
The Bulls swept the series last season.