DeMar DeRozan

Bulls' DeMar DeRozan edged out for Clutch Player award

Golden State's Stephen Curry wins Jerry West trophy in close vote

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For the second time this week, the Chicago Bulls finished second in voting for a major postseason award.

Following Coby White's runner-up finish for the Most Improved Player award won by Philadelphia's Tyrese Maxey, DeMar DeRozan came up just short to Golden State's Stephen Curry in voting for the Clutch Player of the Year award.

Curry took home the Jerry West trophy in the second year of the award's existence with 45 first-, 18 second- and 19 third-place votes for 298 points. DeRozan received 34 first-, 27 second- and 21 third-place votes for 272 points.

DeRozan finished third last season behind winner De'Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings and runner-up Jimmy Butler from the Miami Heat. Coincidentally, DeRozan would've been a lock for the award in 2021-22 had it started then.

As it stood, DeRozan still possessed a strong chance in media voting after NBA head coaches nominated players. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander represented the third finalist.

Curry scored an NBA-high 189 points in clutch situations, defined as possessions in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime when the score is within five points. Curry also led the league in clutch field goals made (59) and clutch three-pointers made (32). Curry shot 49.6% from the field, 45.7% from three-point range and 95.1% from the free throw line in clutch time.

DeRozan led the NBA in fourth-quarter and overtime points, scoring 550 and a franchise-record 56, respectively. He ranked second in clutch points with 182, shooting 48.7 percent in such situations. He led the NBA in clutch free throws made and ranked second behind Curry in clutch field goals made.

What stood in DeRozan's favor was the fact the Bulls led the NBA in clutch and overtime victories, as well as clutch minutes.

In fact, not only did the Bulls post a 27-17 record in clutch games as opposed to the Warriors' mark of 24-24, DeRozan was plus-94 in clutch situations, while Curry was plus-21.

"I just always try to relish the big moments of the game," DeRozan said in an interview late in the season. "I'm a big fan of football. And at a young age, I always used to pay attention to the quarterbacks in the 2-minute drill. I tried to apply that mindset to basketball.

"I've also made boxing references before. Championship rounds go to another level mentally, emotionally. I try to channel my energy to those moments. And the game slows down for me then a lot. At that point, you're three quarters in and you've taken in as much data as you need. It's kind of like a chess game come the fourth quarter. And I always want to take on that moment."

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