Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Fleming, White, Ball, Caruso

With buzzer-beating shots on Friday and Saturday to pull out a pair of thrilling road wins, DeMar DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to accomplish that feat on back-to-back nights. He has done something even more valuable, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, changing the culture of the Bulls, who now have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s an honor to be trusted in the fourth quarter,” DeRozan said. “Whether things are going or going bad, my teammates always lean on me to be that calm presence to kind of bring us home. I always bring that calm presence as much as I can in the fourth quarter, letting guys understand as long we got time, we got a chance.”

The addition of DeRozan during the offseason was a huge step in transforming a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2017. He began talking to Zach LaVine about teaming up during free agency, Johnson adds, and their partnership grew during preseason workouts in Los Angeles and Chicago.

“The chemistry came really, really fast and really easy,” LaVine said. “We don’t have any egos. Regardless of who has it going that night or who has it going in a quarter, we’ll both come together and look for other guys and get them involved throughout the game and just try to figure out how to win the game. That’s been the first and foremost thing that has helped this team.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Chris Fleming has guided the Bulls to five straight victories while head coach Billy Donovan is in health and safety protocols, but he won’t mind going back to being an assistant when Donovan is ready to return (video link from NBC Sports). “Very fortunate enough to be able to experience this from a head coaching standpoint, and see the guys from maybe a little bit different side,” Fleming said after Saturday’s game.
  • Coby White has turned in his best performances of the season with Lonzo Ball in protocols and Alex Caruso sidelined with a sprained foot, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. White is averaging 18.5 points, 5.3 assists and 1.5 steals over the past four games.
  • There’s a good chance that Ball and Caruso will return for Monday’s game with the Magic, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. He adds that the Bulls are getting close to having a full team available after being hit hard by COVID-19 over the past month.
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