For the second — and thankfully, last — time this season, Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan absolutely torched the Los Angeles Lakers defense, anchored by LeBron James on Sunday night. DeRozan scored 38 points and dished out six assists, both totals matching his first appearance against L.A.
The masterful performances in both Lakers matchups sparked countless conversations about the choices made by Rob Pelinka and the front office this offseason. DeRozan was highly connected to the Lakers, and it felt like a deal between the two sides was a serious possibility.
Regardless, what’s done is done and both the Lakers and DeRozan have moved on with their choice. But following Sunday’s 115-110 Bulls win, DeRozan had high praise for James and their battles against one another over the years, according to K.C. Johnson of NBCS Chicago:
DeRozan on all his battles with LeBron: "He knows it. I’ve said it over and over. I got the utmost respect for LeBron. It’s definitely one of those situations that when I’m older I can say I played against that guy."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 20, 2021
James and DeRozan have been going head-to-head with regularity since they played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, respectively. The two have faced off 53 total times, including 14 playoff matchups in three consecutive seasons.
While James has historically dominated this matchup, DeRozan had his chance to show out with the Bulls on Sunday, and he delivered. Still, he showed his respect for James after the game, as DeRozan has always been known for the humility and class he brings to the NBA court.
The two will not face off again this season unless the Lakers and Bulls reach the NBA Finals. It would be unlikely but would make for an extremely fun series, especially for L.A. fans who have ties to nearly every major contributor on the Bulls roster.
Carmelo Anthony praises DeRozan
After an incredible fourth quarter from DeRozan on Sunday, Carmelo Anthony had plenty to say about the Bulls star’s success in crunch time. “The fact that he utilizes the midrange. I know a lot of people want to discredit that part of the game, but I think that’s a lost art.
“I think the midrange game is a lost art and DeMar is one of the guys who mastered that, and at the end of the game and you’ve got to slow down and got to run something and threes are not falling, you’ve got to be able to get to that. He mastered that and mastered his spots on the court and I think that’s why he’s very efficient, especially this season, in the fourth quarter especially down the stretch.”
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