Bulls' DeMar DeRozan delivers on guarantee with career-high night

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DeRozan delivers on guarantee with career-high night originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

MILWAUKEE --- For some players, what DeMar DeRozan said might've bordered on defiance. From him, his guarantee sounded like a foregone conclusion.

"No way in hell I shoot 6-for-25 again," the Chicago Bulls' All-Star said.

Those words came Sunday night, in the wake of DeRozan's disappointing shooting performance in the Bulls' Game 1 loss to the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.

But DeRozan didn't just talk the talk. He walked the walk. DeRozan scored a career-playoff-high 41 points Wednesday night to help the Bulls even the series with an emphatic Game 2 victory. And he laid the groundwork for the performance with his actions.

After the Bulls' bus ride to Milwaukee from Chicago Tuesday afternoon, DeRozan came to Fiserv Forum to get up extra shots.

"Since I been in the playoffs, I do it all the time," DeRozan said of that decision. "Pretty sure I go shoot at the United Center (Thursday) night."

In making 16 of 31 shots, DeRozan became the fifth Bull in franchise history to score 40 points in a playoff game. He's the first since Derrick Rose in 2011.

"I looked at all my missed shots from Game 1. Most of those shots, I got to my spots," DeRozan said. "I never let a miss deter me from taking my next jump shot or not being aggressive. I just knew it wasn't going to happen."

DeRozan came up biggest when the Bulls needed it most. The Bucks were storming, rallying from an 18-point deficit with a huge third-quarter run to cut the deficit to three points.

But DeRozan sank an 18-footer, rebounded a Khris Middleton miss and sank two free throws to push the lead back to seven by quarter's end. Then he continued his hot ways as part of an 9-0 run to open the fourth, burying back-to-back jumpers over Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Asked about this stretch while sitting alongside teammate Alex Caruso during their shared postgame media session, Caruso interrupted.

"He's good," Alex Caruso said.

"What he said," DeRozan added, laughing.

In all, DeRozan sank eight of nine shots while matched against Antetokounmpo, a former Defensive Player of the Year. That's confidence.

"He's capable of doing that (scoring 41 points) every night. He's a helluva player, a helluva scorer," Nikola Vucevic said. "He plays with such poise. He missed some shots in Game 1 that he's usually good at making. He stayed aggressive. Obviously, he made some very tough ones, especially down the stretch."

Indeed, DeRozan's driving layup and finish over Antetokounmpo with 18.2 seconds left following offensive rebounds by Caruso and Vucevic served as the dagger. After the shot, DeRozan, who logged 44 minutes, stayed down on the court for an extra second, briefly showing either exhaustion or that he's human.

There's no guarantee on the latter, though.

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