It’s hard to know where to start with yet another jaw-dropping performance from DeMar DeRozan.
But placing yourself in NBA history can’t be wrong.
By posting his sixth straight game with 35 points on 50 percent or better shooting in Monday’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls' All-Star guard DeRozan tied Wilt Chamberlain for the longest streak in NBA history. Chamberlain did it twice during the 1960-61 season and again in 1963.
DeRozan has shot 50, 59.3, 60, 63.6, 66.7 and 68.4 percent in this run, making 15 of his final 18 shots on Monday night and scoring 19 of his 40 points in the fourth.
“The thing that’s so impressive is the efficiency with which he’s doing it,” coach Billy Donovan said. “His shooting percentages are mind-boggling.”
DeRozan, who posted his career-best seventh straight 30-point game, goes for the record on Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings.
But maybe the Kings will throw constant double-teams at DeRozan and he’ll opt for assists instead, like he also did after the Spurs started trapping him down the stretch.
After scoring 13 points in the first 4 minutes of the fourth and eventually sinking his first eight shots, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich started sending double-teams at DeRozan on every touch. So all DeRozan did was record a hockey assist on a big Derrick Jones Jr. basket and two of his seven assists on a Nikola Vucevic layup and Coby White dagger 3-pointer.
“To be honest, I love getting hot just for the simple fact of I don’t have to keep shooting. I can draw the attention and get other guys shots. That’s kind of my approach to the fourth quarters,” DeRozan said. “Be aggressive. Score. Whether it’s getting to the free-throw line or getting to my spot, make the defense make a decision. And from there, I can pick them apart with the passing.”
Donovan raved about the passing as much as the scoring.
“It’s amazing because it’s not only the ability to score at the level he does, it’s the IQ,” Donovan said. “He generated a lot of offense. Clearly after a period of time in the last 4-5 minutes, they decided to trap him and try to get the ball out of his hands. But he’s not really forcing anything. He’s making the right play.
“When they started trapping him, he recognized it early. And he got the ball out. He didn’t try to dribble through the double team or do things that were going to put him in a situation to be turning the ball over. And I think that speaks even more to his greatness. The fact that, ‘OK, I’m on this incredible roll. Instead of trying to take on two guys, it’s like, OK, someone else is open. Let me find the open man.’”
DeRozan started 1-for-6 before his latest explosion. Postgame, he cited short-arming or rushing or second-guessing those shots.
This is the sound of a surgeon talking.
“So many things click in my mind when I miss a shot,” he said. “Did I get enough lift? Was it short? Did it come off my hands wrong? Was it my gather, my rhythm? It’s just me understanding the next shot, what I need to do.”
DeRozan now has the third-longest streak of 35-point games in franchise history behind two longer ones from Michael Jordan. But Jordan didn’t shoot 50 percent or better in every game of his streak like DeRozan has.
This is a player who said he analyzed his game from earlier in his career and his label as a volume shooter. In his 13th year, DeRozan is averaging a career-high 27.9 points. His 51.5 percent shooting is the second-best of his career.
“It’s not just points. I think it’s for me the comfort of being the player that I am in my 13th year. The confidence. The feel. The teammates that I have. The organization,” he said. “Just taking heed to that. That’s one thing that sits with me well. Not just the scoring. I’ve been a scorer. It’s being able to be free and play at a high level still.”