Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan sank a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Bulls over Indiana 108-106 on Friday, stretching their NBA winning streak to six games, while LeBron James scored 43 points to spark a Los Angeles Lakers romp.
DeRozan added six assists, three rebounds, and three steals while scoring 13 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulls improved to 23-10, matching Brooklyn for the Eastern Conference lead.
“I looked up at the clock, I said, ‘I’ve got to make something happen,’” DeRozan said. “I just tried to get enough space to get it up. As soon as it left my hand it felt good.”
DeRozan rated the 28-foot game-winning shot among his best buzzer-beaters.
“I rank it up there,” DeRozan said. “It was one of those games where it felt like nothing was going our way. It felt like we was getting beat up.
“But we grinded it out and won it on a big shot. It was a hell of a win to pull out.”
The Bulls, missing coach Billy Donovan due to Covid-19, have thrived despite adversity.
In the NBA’s final game of 2021 and the first game for James since turning 37 on Thursday, the four-time NBA champion delivered a season-high point total on 16-of-26 shooting, going 5-of-10 from 3-point range to lead the Lakers over visiting Portland 139-106.
James enjoyed his 67th career game with 40 or more points, with 27 points and 10 rebounds at halftime.
He contributed 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocked shots without a turnover in 29 minutes for the Lakers, seventh in the Western Conference at 18-19.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook delivered his NBA-best ninth triple-double of the season, and fourth in a row, with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.
At Ontario, Canada fans were not allowed and the Toronto Raptors got 31 points and nine assists from Fred VanVleet in his return from the virus to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 116-108.
O.G. Anunoby added 26 points and Pascal Siakam added 25 and a career-high 19 rebounds plus seven assists for the Raptors.
A video tribute to Spaniard Serge Ibaka, a former Raptor star, played to silence in the empty arena.