DeMar DeRozan vowed to remain grounded after breaking a 60-year NBA record held by Wilt Chamberlain in the Chicago Bulls' win against the Sacramento Kings.

The five-time All-Star scored a game-high 38 points in Wednesday's 125-118 victory at United Center as the Bulls won for a fifth game running to go 38-21 for the season.

In doing so, DeRozan became the first player to score 35 points or more and shoot 50 per cent or better in seven straight games.

That is a record previously held by legendary figure Chamberlain, who achieved the feat on separate occasions in 1960-61 and in 1962-63.

After writing his name in the NBA record books, DeRozan struggled to sum up his feelings.

"I can't. I'll be honest with you, I can't. I can't describe it," he said. "It's one of those things where I'm completely locked in as soon as I come to work."

DeRozan's run of at least 30 points in eight straight games is also the longest streak by a Bulls player since Michael Jordan in 1996.

"As a kid, as a fan of the history of the game, being in the league as long as I've been in this league – things like that continue to make me even more humble," he said. 

"Being an NBA player and being able to have the privilege to be able to play this long and have these opportunities, it's something I never take for granted. 

"And the crazy thing is I felt like I missed eight easy shots [against Sacramento] I normally would have made."

 

DeRozan is level with the Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid for the longest streak of 30 or more points by a player this season.

He leads the Bulls this season with 1,547 points at an average of 28.1 through 55 games, which is the fourth-best tally of any player in NBA behind LeBron James (29.1), Embiid (29.3) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.4).

The Bulls are now guaranteed at least a share of first place in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break, with the Miami Heat able to draw level when they face the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.

While DeRozan has played a vital role in what has been an impressive campaign to date, head coach Billy Donovan has been pleased with the input from every player.

"I'm just really appreciative of this group of guys from top to bottom," Donovan said. 

"The way they come to work every day, how professional they are, how they try to keep themselves ready, how it's all about the team, all about winning and what each individual can do to impact and help in winning."

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan threw his support behind Zach LaVine after the shooting guard let the Minnesota Timberwolves off lightly.

Facing his old team, LaVine was not at his sharpest and there were post-game suggestions he might be struggling physically.

LaVine, who joined Minnesota in the 2014 draft before moving to the Bulls three years later, managed just 12 points and six assists in almost 37 minutes on court.

Ultimately, it hardly mattered that he fell well short of his season's average of 24.6 points, as the Bulls pulled off a 134-122 win.

They are now 35-21 for the season and will tackle the Oklahoma City Thunder – Donovan's old team – on Saturday.

Coby White scored 22 points, Javonte Green bagged 23 and Nikola Vucevic's 26 points proved important as the Bulls were led by DeMar DeRozan's 35-point game.

It was a fifth successive 30-point game for DeRozan and Donovan saluted his "unbelievable" performance.

After quarters of 27-27, 33-32 and 32-32, the Bulls stretched clear in the fourth, which they took 42-31 to swat away the Timberwolves (29-27).

Asked afterwards about LaVine's condition, Donovan said: "I just think at this time of the year, I don't think anybody's feeling probably great.

"He's had to deal with his knee, he's had to deal with his back. It's a lot right now, and I'm sure he's not quite where he wants to be physically, but I give him a lot of credit, he's going out there and competing and playing and trying to do what he can do to help the team.

"We're going to have to work through this with him a little bit. He's trying to do everything he can to help us."

Donovan said the Bulls would "take his pulse – [see] how's he feeling, what's he going through, what's he experiencing" before finalising plans for Saturday's game.

"Zach's an elite scorer in this league and has been for quite some time," Donovan said, "but if he has a game like that you've got to try to generate good shots.

"It was great to see Javonte and Coby step up and have the offensive nights they had. DeMar's been doing it pretty consistently all year long.

"Zach tried to play the right way. I think the guys are trying to help each other and complement each other, and they're very, very unselfish based on who's going well and who's playing well."

Billy Donovan says the Chicago Bulls' "margin for error is not great" after losing for a fourth straight game in the absence of several key players.

Without the likes of Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso, the Bulls were beaten 119-106 by the in-form Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.

Despite losing to the Grizzlies, the Boston Celtics, the Golden State Warriors and the Brooklyn Nets in successive games, Chicago are top of the Eastern Conference.

The Nets are now 27-15 for the season and have allowed an average of 127 points across those past four defeats, following a run of 14 wins from their previous 17.

And after committing 18 turnovers in an error-strewn performance against the Grizzlies, Donovan accepts an improvement is required.

"For us right now, our margin for error is not great," he said. "Turnovers here, offensive rebound, a couple easy transition points – we're going to have to eliminate those things.

"We've got to be really meticulous and good at taking care of the ball, defensive rebounding and getting back."

DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 24 points on 10 of 24 shooting, on top of his five assists, while Coby White finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

While the shorthanded Bulls are going through a rough patch, White believes there could be long-term gains for his side.

"I feel like this is a chance for us to grow," he said. "We're getting the opportunity now.

"I feel like we're just taking it day-by-day and trying to just grow and develop and get better for the team."

The Grizzlies have won 12 of their last 13 games and are third in the West ahead of a four-game road trip that begins against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

"I thought our guys came out ready," Memphis interim coach Darko Rajakovic said. 

"I thought we did a really good job defensively. To be honest with you, I thought we were supposed to score even more. 

"We missed a couple of chippies, a couple of open looks that we usually make."

James Harden is excited by what could be as he along with team-mates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving combined to score 61 points in the Brooklyn Nets' 138-112 victory against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

Harden managed a double-double of 25 points and a season-high 16 assists, while Durant scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Nets to a comfortable victory at United Center.

Kyrie Irving, who can only play on the road due to COVID-19 vaccine laws in New York, added nine points in his third game back for the Nets.

Speaking after the victory, which took the Nets to a 26-14 record for the season, Harden was asked about his on-court relationship with Durant and Irving.

"We're that good," Harden emphasised. "We have a chance to be that good. We just haven't had enough of it. Last year I think we had 15 games maybe together, and this year only two.

"It felt good tonight on both ends of the ball, to be locked in on the same page and, offensively, sharing the basketball and making each other better."

Durant also faced the media after another stellar showing, having now scored at least 25 points in 12 straight games, and the 11-time NBA All-Star made clear that he is not concerned with what people on the outside think of his team.

"We're trying to make no statements to the league," Durant said. "I mean, who cares what they think? We know what we bring to the table, and it's all about us. But I'm sure people were watching the game tonight."

Meanwhile, the Bulls became the first team in NBA history to win by 45+ points one day and then lose by 25+ the next, having beaten the Detroit Pistons 133-87 on Tuesday.

Coach Billy Donovan praised his team for a run that has seen them reach a 27-12 record so far, acknowledging that they were second best on the day, particularly in the third quarter when the Nets scored more than twice the number of points managed by the Bulls (39-19).

"I think you own it," Donovan said. "I think our guys have worked hard up to this point to be where we are in the standings, and with that there's a greater responsibility."

Chicago Bulls' head coach Billy Donovan has reportedly entered the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The Bulls saw two of their games postponed earlier in December after 10 of their players had entered the protocol.

Donovan, who has cold-like symptoms according to ESPN, told the media on Thursday that all the players had been cleared, and they are expected to be available for Sunday's game against the Indiana Pacers.

He will apparently now miss that game, with Bulls assistant Chris Fleming acting as head coach.

The 56-year-old would become the fourth NBA head coach to enter into protocols, joining Sacramento's Alvin Gentry, the Lakers' Frank Vogel, and Indiana's Rick Carlisle.

Nikola Vucevic would like to be able to do more to help the Chicago Bulls amid their coronavirus outbreak but has no explanation for his shooting woes.

The Bulls lost two more players to health and safety protocols ahead of Saturday's defeat to the Miami Heat, meaning they now have seven players out due to COVID-19.

Among them is DeMar DeRozan, whose team-high 26.4 points per game this season have helped transform Chicago into contenders in the East.

Two-time All-Star Vucevic missed seven games earlier in the year after returning a positive test, although his below-par displays so far in 2021-22 mean the former Orlando Magic center was not quite such a big miss.

Through the first three weeks of the season before his lay-off, Vucevic shot 39.5 per cent from the field and averaged 13.6 points.

There has been slight improvement since the 31-year-old's return, shooting 41.3 per cent and scoring 17.0 points, boosted by a 30-point game against the Charlotte Hornets, but his marks for the season (40.4 per cent shooting, 15.2 points per game) remain well down on 2020-21 (47.7 per cent, 23.4).

Among players to play in 70 per cent of team games, only Jonas Valanciunas (59.2 to 51.7) has suffered a larger decline in field-goal shooting percentage from this season to last, while Bradley Beal (31.3 to 22.5) is the sole NBA star to see a greater drop-off in points output.

The 118-92 loss to the Heat saw Vucevic's worst shooting game of the season, making just three of 15 attempts from the field (20.0 per cent) for 10 points.

"I don't really have an explanation for what's going on with my shot," the 49.3-per-cent career shooter said afterwards.

"It's something I was always very consistent with, really good throughout my whole career, around a 50-per-cent shooter, so I don't know."

The Bulls' overall improvement – now 17-10 after last year's 31-41 record, representing the league's third-largest increase in winning percentage – had largely hidden Vucevic's poor form until now.

"It's tough when you want to go out there, play well and help the team win," he said. "You want to do your job. It's obviously frustrating.

"I have a lot of pride in myself and put in the work and everything, but it's just not working for me right now.

"I've never been through a slump like this, and I just have to work myself out of it. There's no other way.

"Obviously I'm not playing well right now, I'm not doing what I'm supposed to do, not doing my job, and I've just got to figure it out – it's plain and simple."

He added: "There are games where maybe I didn't play as well, but we were winning and it's not that big of a deal.

"When you lose and you don't play well, you feel like it's even more of your responsibility, your fault."

Coach Billy Donovan has sympathy for his players amid the uncertainty around the team, although he wants more from Vucevic.

"Everybody's probably a little bit out of sorts right now, just because we keep losing players and we're throwing different guys in and need more from different guys," he said.

The coach at least knows Vucevic's performances are not for a lack of effort.

"With some of the scoring that's missing from our team, we're going to need him and Lonzo to pick up the slack in different ways," Donovan added.

"I thought he had some pretty decent looks. But I trust him and believe in him – maybe I wouldn't feel that way if I didn't see him working."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.