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Hoops du Jour

Bulls’ star enters NBA’s protocols

CHICAGO — Chicago Bulls leading scorer DeMar DeRozan entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Monday, a major blow for a team with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

DeRozan participated in the morning shootaround prior to the game against the Denver Nuggets. Coach Billy Donovan said he wasn’t sure if the four-time All-Star tested positive.

“I cannot really confirm and deny if it’s a false positive or is positive,” Donovan said. “I don’t know right now. Obviously, the medical staff works through the league on that and they come up with the guidelines to which he’s got to follow. And I hope we’ll be able to have more news one way or another in the next day or so.”

Acquired from San Antonio in a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason, DeRozan has played a huge role in Chicago’s resurgence. He ranked fourth in the NBA at 26.4 points per game and led the league in fourth-quarter points with 178 points entering Monday.

The Bulls were 16-8 and a half game behind Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference. They are eyeing their first playoff appearance since the 2016-17 season.

Monday’s games:

76ERS 127, HORNETS 124: Joel Embiid had a season-high 43 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and the Philadelphia 76ers held off the short-handed Charlotte Hornets in overtime. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 35 points with six 3-pointers for the Hornets, but missed a 3 at the end of the first overtime that would have tied the game. Charlotte played without five players, including starters Lamelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Mason Plumlee because of NBA health and safety protocols.

THUNDER 114, PISTONS 103: Shea Gilgeous-Alexander had 30 points and 13 assists, Luguentz Dort scored 28 points and Oklahoma City rallied past Detroit in a battle of teams that entered with eight-game losing streaks. Rookie Cade Cunningham had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons.

GRIZZLIES 105, HEAT 90: Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane scored 21 points each, and surging Memphis beat Miami. The win was Memphis’ fifth straight without leading scorer Ja Morant, who hurt his left knee against Atlanta on Nov. 26. The Grizzlies have not trailed during their streak. Miami’s Jimmy Butler returned from a four-game absence because of a bruised tailbone and scored 10 points before leaving for the locker room midway through the third quarter. He didn’t return.

BULLS 109, NUGGETS 97: Zach LaVine scored 32 points as Chicago beat Denver and moved into a tie with Brooklyn atop the Eastern Conference. Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic each had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and all five starters scored in double figures for Chicago. The Nuggets lost for the eighth time in 10 games despite a triple-double by Nikola Jokic. The reigning MVP finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high 15 assists.

BUCKS 112, CAVALIERS 104: Giannis Antetokounmpo came back from a two-game absence and scored 27 points on his 27th birthday to help Milwaukee defeat Cleveland. The two-time MVP also had 12 rebounds in his return from a sore right calf as the Bucks won for the 10th time in 11 games. Jarrett Allen led the Cavaliers with 25 points and nine rebounds on 10-for-12 shooting.

HAWKS 121, TIMBERWOLVES 110: Trae Young had 29 points and 11 assists, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 23 points and short-handed Atlanta beat Minnesota. Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points off the bench for Atlanta, which was without injured wings Cam Reddish, Bogdan Bogdanovich, Solomon Hill and De’Andre Hunter. Karl-Anthony Towns had 31 points and 16 rebounds for Minnesota in his return after missing one game with a tailbone contusion.

PACERS 116, WIZARDS 110: Domantas Sabonis finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to help Indiana snap a four-game losing streak with a win over Washington. Three-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal scored 34 points to lead the Wizards, who have lost three straight and four of five. Beal appeared to hurt his left shoulder early in the fourth quarter during a tussle for a loose ball but returned following a timeout and finished the game.

The Associated Press

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