CHICAGO (670 The Score) – As Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu explained it, everyone in the United Center knew what was coming late in a tie game Wednesday.
The Bulls just couldn’t stop it.
King star guard De’Aaron Fox did what he has done so often in his marvelous season, hitting a clutch shot late – this one a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left over Dosunmu – to lift his team to victory. Sacramento’s 117-114 win came after Chicago had tied it on forward DeMar DeRozan’s four-point play with 12.5 seconds left. The Kings didn’t use a timeout, instead letting Fox direct the show and provide more heroics.
“Everybody knew it was going to be an iso,” Dosunmu said in the aftermath. “Yeah, that’s pretty much what it was. (We) just knew it. It would be an isolation. We knew it wasn’t going to be too much of a complicated play.”
Fox hit the game-winning shot going a bit to his left, while Bulls forward Patrick Williams came with a late double team from Fox’s right. The Bulls didn’t want to double Fox too early, coach Billy Donovan explained, because they didn’t want the Kings to get a wide-open look or have time to attack after a quick pass.
Entering play Wednesday, Fox led the NBA by a wide margin with 180 points in clutch time, defined as games being within five points in the final five minutes. He was also shooting 54.8% in such situations, one of the best marks in the league among players with high volume in such moments.
Fox finished with 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter. After hitting the game-winner, Fox told his teammates, “I’m f****** nice.”
For his part, Dosunmu didn’t have any regrets in how he defended Fox on the decisive play.
“Pretty much, I just wanted to use my length, use my wingspan while also, like you said, not getting too close to him because I don’t want him to try to get a drive or a foul or a hand-check or nothing like that,” Dosunmu said of how he defended Fox. “So I just tried to keep a good distance where I could still contest. He pulled up. I contested, Pat contested. I just watched video – I think he just made a tough shot.”
The loss dropped the Bulls to 31-37 and into 11th place in the East, a half-game behind the idle Wizards for the final play-in berth. Chicago hosts Minnesota on Friday.
“It sucks,” said DeRozan, who led all scorers with 33 points. “We’ve just got to keep pushing, keep fighting. You can’t let it discourage you too much to make you feel like it’s over with. We understand we still got an opportunity.
We’re going to play this thing out until we can’t no more and let the chips fall where they may. We’re going to keep fighting. It sucks to lose the way we have so many games, but you know, you got to muster up and keep pushing.”
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.
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