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.

Donovan said he’s not sure if DeRozan will travel with the Bulls to Cleveland for their game on Wednesday. The NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols requires players to be sidelined at least 10 days or record two negative tests in a 24-hour period before they can resume basketball activities. DeRozan joins teammates Coby White and Javonte Green in the league’s health and safety protocols.

“We’ve had to deal with this for a good portion of the year, whether it’s been COVID or injuries. … This is the hand we’re dealt,” Donovan said. “I like our group of guys.”

Backup guard Alex Caruso will also miss at least the next week because of a strained right hamstring, Donovan said. He left Saturday’s win at Brooklyn.

“The bigger concern is if we bring him back too early and now it goes from something that was minor to something more significant,” Donovan said. “Now, he’s going to be missing more time. So I think the medical feels pretty confident that, OK, after a week here, let’s reevaluate where he’s at and then make some decisions going forward.”


PACERS 116, WIZARDS 110: Domantas Sabonis finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to help host Indiana snap a four-game losing streak.

Caris LeVert had 19 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 17 points and eight assists for the Pacers, who had lost five straight in the series, including last season’s play-in round game.

Three-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal scored 34 points to lead the Wizards, who have lost three straight and 4 of 5. 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.

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

Detroit led by 16 in the third quarter and 12 early in the fourth, but the Pistons were outscored 25-8 in the final five minutes of their ninth straight loss.

76ERS 127, HORNETS 124: Joel Embiid had a season-high 43 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and visiting Philadelphia held off Charlotte in overtime.

Tobias Harris returned from a one-game absence due to illness and had 21 points and 11 rebounds as the 76ers shot 52.9% from the field and earned back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 4-6.

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 and sent it to a second extra period.

GRIZZLIES 105, HEAT 90: Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane scored 21 points each as Memphis won at 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.

HAWKS 121, TIMBERWOLVES 110: Trae Young had 29 points and 11 assists, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 23 points and visiting 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.

Luwawu-Cabarrot had a career-high seven 3-pointers, shooting 7 of 14 as the Hawks set season highs with 25 makes and 49 attempts from beyond the arc.

Young was 4-of-9 shooting from 3 and Gallinari finished 4 of 6.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 31 points and 16 rebounds for Minnesota.

BULLS 109, NUGGETS 97: Zach LaVine scored 32 points and Chicago won at home.

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 win at home.

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. Milwaukee split the two games it played without Antetokounmpo, losing 97-93 at Toronto and rolling to a 124-102 home victory over Miami.

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