Bulls, Thunder stay alive in NBA playoffs with play-in wins

by mcardinal

Rob Issa, FISM News

     

Nine-year-old Diar DeRozan was the star of the NBA on the second night of play-in tournament games.

The daughter of Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan went viral for her loud screams during Chicago’s 109-105 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in an Eastern Conference elimination game.

Diar DeRozan’s loud shouts came when the Raptors were shooting free throws. Toronto missed 18 of 36 from the line, a woeful 50% shooting performance in their season-ending loss. The Bulls, meanwhile, went 18 for 22.

“My daughter called me the other day when she was getting out of school and she just said, ‘Dad, can I come to the Toronto game?’” said DeRozan, who previously played for Toronto. “I remember her going to all the Toronto games when she was a kid and I almost said no because she’s in school back home. But she kept asking. She was just adamant about coming to support and I said, ‘All right, you can miss one day of school and come to a game.’ I’m glad I did. I owe her some money for sure.”

The Bulls will face Miami on Friday night in a must-win game. The Heat lost to Atlanta, which earned the NBA’s 7th seed. The Bulls-Heat winner faces No. 1 Milwaukee in the first round. 

Little Diar isn’t going to Miami for the game, her dad said, saying she will be at school.

Zach LaVine scored 39 points and DeRozan had 23 to lead the Bulls to a comeback victory after trailing by 19 in the third quarter.

“His performance was extraordinary,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of LaVine. “It gave us life and it gave us hope.”

The Bulls swept all three games against the Heat this season, including two wins in Miami.

In the Western Conference play-in game, the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the New Orleans Pelicans with a 123-118 victory.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 points, including a go-ahead jumper and four free throws in the final 29 seconds, and Josh Giddey had 31 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds for Oklahoma City.

The Thunder take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night to determine the No. 8 seed in the West. The winner faces the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

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