SAINT ANTONY – Dejounte Murray had 29 points and 12 assists as the Spurs beat the Chicago Bulls 131-122 in DeMar DeRozan’s return to San Antonio on Friday night.
DeRozan, who spent the previous three seasons with the Spurs, scored 32 points in his first game in San Antonio for the Bulls. Zach LaVine added 30 points and Nikola Vucevic had 18.
Keldon Johnson added 23 points for San Antonio, which snapped a three-game losing streak at home. Jakob Poeltl added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Murray had nine rebounds.
DeRozan was showered with appreciation from fans as well as his former teammates and coaches. His only 3-pointer cut San Antonio’s lead to 124-120, but Chicago had a turnover on their next possession to help the Spurs stay ahead.
San Antonio built a 13-point lead to open the fourth quarter, its biggest lead at the time. Chicago went on a 9-2 run after DeRozan re-entered the game.
DeRozan was nearly stripped from behind by Murray when the Spurs matched him up to prevent a shot late in the first half. DeRozan kept his dribble and composure, throwing a pass to Javonte Green just below the basket for a layup as the buzzer sounded.
DeRozan finished with eight assists and six rebounds while committing just one turnover.
Following DeRozan’s monster hit on Drew Eubanks, Murray and Lonnie Walker IV hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Spurs an 89-85 lead with 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Spurs, who lead the league in assists with 27.8 per game, had 35 against the Bulls. Seven players scored in double figures for San Antonio.
Chicago’s Coby White was 6-of-6 from the field in the first half, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range, to score 15 points. He finished with 18.
Bulls: Chicago point guard Lonzo Ball underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Friday. Trainer Billy Donovan said the timeline for Ball’s return remains six to eight weeks. … The Bulls are still without Alex Caruso (fractured left wrist), Derrick Jones Jr. (hyperextended right knee) and Patrick Williams (torn left wrist ligament). … San Antonio honored DeRozan with a tribute video showcasing his highlights on the court and his work in the community. Fans gave DeRozan a standing ovation and showered him with chants of “MVP” after the video. DeRozan addressed San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich directly before kickoff and the two shared a long hug and a few words before DeRozan walked onto the court. … The Bulls are 13-12 on the road.
Spurs: Murray has at least 10 assists in six straight games, the second-longest such streak in franchise history and the longest in the NBA this season. … San Antonio assistant Mitch Johnson is back after missing five games while under the league’s health and safety protocols. … F Keita Bates-Diop remains outside health and safety protocols. … The Spurs improved to 10-16 at home.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Bulls: They host Portland on Sunday.
Spurs: At Phoenix on Sunday.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism