On the road, the Chicago Bulls didn’t have many fans in the stands at Scotiabank Arena when they faced the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Play-In Tournament on Wednesday night.
But one young fan wanted to do whatever he could to make sure the Bulls had some sort of advantage.
Diar DeRozan, the daughter of Bulls star DeMar DeRozan, was yelling strategically on the court when the Raptors were taking their free throws in the game.
And those whoops might have been the X factor the team needed to make its big comeback in a 109-105 win to secure a chance to play for the No. 8 seed in the East.
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Whether you were in the arena or watching your television, Diar DeRozan’s screams were heard clear as day as the Raptors found themselves about to take a free throw. And the statistics showed that his efforts did not stay by the wayside.
The Raptors shot 18 of 36 from the free throw line, which is not what you want to see from the place known as the charity line. That 50% hurt them at the end of the night, especially at the most important moment of the game.
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Pascal Siakam was fouled behind the three-point line by Alex Caruso, and while controversial, he walked to the free throw line for three points, 107-104, with a chance to tie the game.
Siakam hit her first free throw via DeRozan’s yell, but she was determined to keep going. Siakam missed his next two free throws and it seemed like those screams were the loudest of the night.
Nikola Vucevic would make both of his free throws on the other hand to ice the game, and the Bulls became the first No. 10 seed to win a Play-In Tournament game.
They will now head to Miami to face the No. 7-seeded Heat for a chance to clinch the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference for the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
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DeRozan played a big role in the Bulls’ fourth-quarter comeback, where they outscored the Raptors 37-24. At one point in this game, they were down 19 points.
DeRozan was 10 of 19 from the field for 23 points with seven rebounds and three assists, while Zach LaVine was the clear MVP of the group, wanting to get Chicago back into the game with his 39 points on 12-of-22 shooting from the field. with 13 of 15 made at the free throw line as well.
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But an MVP trophy might have to go to Diar DeRozan, who may need to rest his vocal chords a bit after a night of hard work from the stands.