Just when the Chicago Bulls need a big performance, DeMar DeRozan has stepped up. The veteran All-Star is having one of the best seasons of his career and leading the team’s resurgence.

DeRozan’s latest masterpiece was a 50-point performance against the LA Clippers. He shot 17-26 from the field and made 14 of his 15 free throws while adding six assists and five rebounds to his stat line. His heroics helped Chicago secure an overtime win.

Although his MVP candidacy has faded, DeRozan is balling out this season for the Bulls. The team needs it in such a packed playoff picture. Chicago is fifth in the Eastern Conference but seeds one through six are separated by less than five games. After the win over LA, DeRozan acknowledged that the playoff race made his performance much more important.

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DeRozan has spent this season challenging Michael Jordan in the Bulls’ history books. He is averaging a career-high 28.0 points per game along with 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists. The player who was once thought to be a terrible offseason addition has firmly become one of the very best of the past few years.

The Bulls, to many, seem like one of the weaker teams in the playoffs. DeRozan has a long history of falling short in the postseason and Chicago has struggled mightily to beat the best teams from around the league. Even if they land one of the top seeds, their track record against good teams is very poor. Still, this season was a meaningful step forward for the Bulls.