That screaming you heard throughout Wednesday's Raptors-Bulls play-in game?
As the Scotiabank Centre home crowd went silent for each of Toronto's 36 free throws, Diar let out a scream to distract Raptors shooters. Here's Raptors center Jakob Poeltl shooting through screams as Diar let them rip from a baseline seat behind the basket.
— Doc Naismith (@DocNaismith) April 13, 2023
Poeltl powered through in that instance. But the strategy paid off in the end. A Raptors team that shot 78.4% from the stripe during the regular season was a cool 50% (18 of 36) from the line on Wednesday. The missed free throws played a critical role in the outcome as the Raptors blew a 19-point third-quarter lead.
The screams caught viewers off guard in the first half in addition to the Raptors. Social media speculated that the girl was DeRozan's daughter before ESPN confirmed in the third quarter that she was indeed Diar.
DeMar's daughter is screaming whenever the Raptors take free throws 😂 pic.twitter.com/HxmMz3BYgq
— ESPN (@espn) April 13, 2023
The Raptors shot 8 of 14 in the first half when Diar was sitting directly behind the basket they were targeting. Her screams were not subdued in the second half as Toronto shot 10 of 22 on the opposite basket. The game, fittingly, came down to Raptors free-throw attempts.
With Toronto trailing 107-104, Pascal Siakam had a chance to tie the game for the Raptors with three free throws. Officials whistled Alex Caruso for a shooting foul on a Siakam 3-point attempt with 12 seconds remaining. He hit the first, but missed the next two, ensuring the Chicago victory. Diar screamed through each attempt.
Siakam, who shot 5 of 11 from the stripe, acknowledged the role missed free throws paid down the stretch.
“A bad free throw night," Siakam told reporters postgame. ... "At the end of the day, it’s probably going to come down to those free throws. We had a good lead, and we didn't execute the way we wanted to."
Raptors coach Nick Nurse concurred.
"That's a lot of misses," he said.
As for DeRozan, he told reporters that he wasn't anticipating Diar's help.
DeMar DeRozan: "I kept hearing something during the game. I looked back and I was like, damn, that's my daughter screaming?"
Diar DeRozan is the REAL MVP ❤️ pic.twitter.com/f1JekBDRD9
— The Sporting News (@sportingnews) April 13, 2023
"I kept looking hearing something during the game," DeRozan said, while shaking his head. "It was one free throw that somebody missed. I was like, 'Damn, that's my daughter screaming?' I was just making sure she was all right, though."
DeRozan also told reporters that she talked him into missing a day of school so she could go to the game.
"I said you can miss one day of school and come to a game... I'm glad I did."
Diar DeRozan's free throw distraction came up clutch for the Bulls tonight 🤣 pic.twitter.com/Z1EZvORC10
— NBA (@NBA) April 13, 2023
"I almost said no because she's in school back home," DeRozan said. "She kept asking, she was just adamant about coming to support. I just said, 'All right, you can miss one day of school and come to a game.'
"I'm glad I did. I owe her money for sure."
Sorry, Bulls fans. Diar's not going to Miami. Thanks to Wednesday's win, the Bulls advance to face the Heat on Friday with the winner earning the East's final playoff spot. DeRozan told reporters she won't be traveling to that game.
"She's got to go back to school," he said.
How exactly did Diar secure such premium seats on enemy turf? DeRozan has strong ties in Toronto. Before a stint with the San Antonio Spurs and reviving his All-Star status in Chicago, DeRozan spent his first nine NBA seasons with the Raptors. A four-time All-Star in Toronto, he was one of the best players in franchise history before being sent to San Antonio in the deal to acquire Kawhi Leonard that ultimately led to a Raptors championship.
On Wednesday, he was back in Toronto with his family for an elimination game. Diar, understandably, had no love for the home team.