DeMar DeRozan's daughter lights up NBA world during play-in victory

The Bulls star's daughter proved to be the team's secret weapon in their NBA play-in victory.

Pictured right, DeMar DeRozan's daughter Diar.

The daughter of Chicago star DeMar DeRozan has stolen the show during the Bulls' come-from-behind win in the NBA play-in game against the Toronto Raptors. The Bulls rallied from a 19-point deficit to eliminate the Raptors 109-105, becoming the first 10th-placed team to win an NBA play-in game.

Chicago's victory sees them advance to the final play-in game against the Miami Heat, with the winner to take the eighth and final playoffs spot for the first round series against Eastern Conference top-seeds, the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors were not helped by 50 per cent free-throw shooting after having to endure persistent and timed screams from DeRozan's daughter, Diar, each time they stepped up to the free-throw line.

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As the Scotiabank Centre home crowd went silent for each of Toronto's 36 free throws, Diar let out a scream to distract Raptors shooters. Video of Raptors centre Jakob Poeltl trying to shoot while being put off by the young girl went viral on social media.

Poeltl powered through the jeers in an early instance but the strategy paid off in the end as the Raptors were well down on their usual 78.4% from the stripe. The screams caught viewers off guard in the first half in addition to the Raptors. Social media speculated that the girl was DeRozan's daughter before ESPN confirmed in the third quarter that she was, indeed Diar.

The Raptors shot 8 of 14 in the first half when Diar was sitting directly behind the basket they were targeting. Her screams were not subdued in the second half as Toronto shot 10 of 22 on the opposite basket. The game, fittingly, came down to Raptors free-throw attempts.

With Toronto trailing 107-104, Pascal Siakam had a chance to tie the game for the Raptors with three free throws. Officials whistled Alex Caruso for a shooting foul on a Siakam 3-point attempt with 12 seconds remaining. He hit the first, but missed the next two, ensuring the Chicago victory. Diar screamed through each attempt.

Seen here, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan celebrates after defeating the Toronto Raptors in the NBA play-in tournament.
Bulls star DeMar DeRozan celebrates after defeating the Toronto Raptors in the NBA play-in tournament. Pic: Getty (Andrew Lahodynskyj via Getty Images)

Toronto Raptors lament free-throw struggles

Siakam, who shot 5 of 11 from the stripe, acknowledged the role missed free throws paid down the stretch. “A bad free throw night," Siakam told reporters postgame. "At the end of the day it’s probably going to come down to those free throws. We had a good lead, and we didn't execute the way we wanted to."

Raptors coach Nick Nurse concurred. "That's a lot of misses," he said.

As for DeRozan, he told reporters that he wasn't anticipating Diar's help. "I kept looking hearing something during the game," DeRozan said, while shaking his head. "It was one free throw that somebody missed. I was like 'damn, that's my daughter screaming?' I was just making sure she was all right, though."

DeRozan also told reporters that she talked him into missing a day of school so she could go to the game. "I almost said no because she's in school back home," DeRozan said. "She kept asking, she was just adamant about coming to support. I just said 'all right, you can miss one day of school and come to a game.' I'm glad I did. I owe her money for sure."

In the day's other play-in game, Oklahoma City showed maturity to progress past the New Orleans Pelicans 123-118, with Aussie star Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the way for the Thunder. OKC advanced to face the Minnesota Timberwolves in Friday's play-in tournament game with the winner to take on the Denver Nuggets.

Gilgeous-Alexander only had seven first-half points but finished with a game-high 32 on 11-of-22 shooting, making eight-of-eight free-throws including a series down the stretch. Aussie guard Giddey nearly had a triple-double with 31 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Lu Dort added 27 points with four three-pointers.

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