DeMar DeRozan caught fire in the final quarter, using a calculated game plan to score a team-high 40 points as the Chicago Bulls seized control late to beat the San Antonio Spurs 120-109 on Monday.
The Bulls trailed by six points entering the fourth quarter but then DeRozan busted loose, scoring 11 of his team’s next 13 points to give Chicago the lead.
DeRozan says he tried to remain calm throughout, especially in the third quarter when the Spurs outscored the Bulls 32-24.
“Come the fourth quarter my main priority is to win at any cost,” said DeRozan. “You have to understand the whole game. It is tough to go out there from the jump ball and just be aggressive and try to score.
“You got to dissect the game. I collect data throughout the game and come the fourth quarter I got it all figured out and the ball is going in the hoop.”
DeRozan has scored 30 or more points in seven straight games and established a club record with his sixth straight game of at least 35 points, surpassing Michael Jordan in the 1996-97 season.
It comes as no surprise that DeRozan leads the league with 431 fourth-quarter points.
“It’s not only the scoring piece, which is absolutely incredible what he does, the other piece of it is just his basketball IQ, his experience, how savvy he is,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.
Nikola Vucevic added 25 points and 16 rebounds while Coby White scored 24 and Ayo Dosunmu dropped 12 in the win.
Chicago shot 52.3 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Spurs 58-41.
Lonnie Walker led San Antonio with 21 points off the bench. Doug McDermott and Dejounte Murray added 19 each and Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl scored 13 apiece for the Spurs in front of a crowd of 21,100 at the United Center.
The Bulls played without all-star Zach LaVine, who missed his second straight game due to a sore left knee.
Elsewhere, Kyle Kuzma finished with 23 points, including 17 in the third quarter, as the Washington Wizards rolled to a 103-94 point victory over the Detroit Pistons, who lost their eighth straight contest.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 16, and Deni Avdija had 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for Washington, who have won just two of their last 11.
Saddiq Bey scored a team-high 24 points and Jeremi Grant tallied 14 for the Pistons, who dropped to 12-45 on the season.
The Pistons’ Cade Cunningham was in foul trouble for much of the game and finished with 12 points. Cunningham leads all NBA rookies in scoring.
The Pistons were held scoreless for more than four minutes late in the fourth quarter. They are now a dismal 4-25 on the road.
Washington, who improved to 26-30 overall, took a 75-74 lead on Ish Smith’s jumper with 2:47 left in the third.
Kuzma scored seven points in the final 80 seconds of the quarter as the Wizards took an 87-78 lead into the fourth.
Wizards Rui Hachimura left the game in the second quarter after spraining his ankle in a collision with Detroit’s Marvin Bagley, who was playing in his first game since the Pistons traded for him.
In New York, Seth Curry scored 23 points in his debut for Brooklyn as the Nets snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 109-85 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Curry helped Brooklyn get its first win since beating San Antonio on January 21. He made 10 of 18 shots, including three from long range and added seven rebounds and five assists.
Also, CJ McCollum scored 23 points as the host New Orleans Pelicans dominated the Toronto Raptors with a 120-90 victory.
In Los Angeles, Terance Mann scored a season-high 25 points as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Golden State Warriors 119-104.