DeRozan: Doubters fueling strong 1st season with Bulls

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DeMar DeRozan is on a tear to start his first season with the Chicago Bulls, currently ranking third in scoring at 26.9 points per game.

The Compton, California native continued his impressive play Monday by dropping a season-high 38 points in a 121-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. DeRozan said his strong performances have been motivated by the people who have doubted him in recent years.

"I can go down the list of just being counted out, being looked over," DeRozan said postgame, according to ESPN's Jamal Collier. "So many chips that's on my shoulder that I carry. And just wanting to be a winner and wanting to enjoy this ride. We can't play this game forever, so I want to get as much as I can out of it."

DeRozan's recent stretch has put him in elite company. He became the first player since Shaquille O'Neal during the 2000-01 season to score 35-plus points while shooting 65% from the field or better in a back-to-back road set, according to Stats Perform.

"I think a lot of people counted him out saying he's on the back end of his career, but this is probably one of his best years that he's had in the NBA," Bulls guard Lonzo Ball said of his teammate. "I've always known what type of player he was. I don't know how he got kind of lost in the shuffle in San Antonio, but he's one of the best players in this game, and I think he's going out there and proving it every night."

Teammate Nikola Vucevic echoed Ball's appreciation of DeRozan by patting himself on the back for helping lure the four-time All-Star to Chicago.

DeRozan, a 13-year NBA veteran, is on pace to average his most points per game since the 2016-17 season. He's also shooting 51% from the field and a career-best 37.1% from distance. The 32-year-old said the Bulls have allowed him to rediscover parts of his game.

"I never thought I couldn't be who I was before," DeRozan said. "Chicago allowed me to completely be myself."

The Bulls are now 10-4 following back-to-back wins over the two L.A. teams.

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DeRozan: Doubters fueling strong 1st season with Bulls
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