Chicago Bulls: Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso frustrate Jayson Tatum late

The Chicago Bulls boast the NBA’s best record entering play on Tuesday. At 6-1 thanks to their huge come-from-behind 128-114 road win over the Boston Celtics, this team has already put many preseason narratives to rest. That includes DeMar DeRozan who went off (again) for 37 points on an obscene 75 percent shooting and 3-of-4 from deep.

He also had seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block with just one turnover. DeRozan got 10 of his points in the fourth quarter but all were critical on a night when Zach LaVine had 26 points but shot 1-of-8 from downtown.

In LaVine’s defense, he had 13 points in the fourth quarter on 83.3 percent shooting.

Hometown rookie Ayo Dosunmu got to be a hero with five of his 14 coming in the final frame, including a big three that gave the Bulls a 106-105 lead with 6:54 on the clock.

Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso gave Jayson Tatum fits late in the Chicago Bulls win over the Celtics

That was in the midst of a Bulls rally from a 19-point deficit en route to a 14-point victory spurred by the suffocating defense of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso on Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. Boston shot 21.7 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter, going 0-for-8 from deep.

Tatum went rouge as he is wont to do, going 1-for-8 from the floor and 0-for-2 from deep.

He had no rebounds and one assist to one turnover in the frame.

Jaylen Brown, who led the Celtics with 28 points, missed his only two looks (one triple) while failing to log any other stat in the quarter except for a couple of fouls.

Ball — who matched up with Tatum the most — held the dynamic scorer to 3-of-9 shooting overall and 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. Caruso held Tatum to 2-of-6 shooting in his coverage. That’s 33.3 percent shooting against Ball and Caruso compared to 42.8 percent against all other Bulls defenders.

Brown had 15 of his 28 on Ball at a 75 percent clip –including four straight buckets where Ball defended well and shots still fell — in a fraction of the time that Ball was on Tatum. He had 26 of his 28 in the middle quarters including 11 in the third.

Ball and Caruso have done tremendous things this season and Monday night in the fourth quarter they put on some of their best work, aided by the mentality of Tatum.

The win is the first time that a team lost by 14 or more points after leading by 14-plus in the shot clock era, per ESPN Stats & Info.

They outscored the Celtics 39-11. It was the largest positive margin in a single quarter for the Bulls since December 15, 1990, against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a game that previous iterations would have packed it in by the time the lead reached double-digits. Or once it was “clear” LaVine was having an off-night.

Instead, thanks to the presence of DeRozan, bolstered by smothering late-game defense on the wings, and the Bulls are looking like the legitimate threats in the East that we hoped they’d be. Next up is a road date with the Philadelphia 76ers.

They could be without both Joel Embiid (injury) and Tobias Harris (COVID) for that game, but just beat the Portland Trailblazers without either. Still, it is a game the Bulls should win.