The Chicago Bulls can’t escape clutch finishes. What does that mean for the final quarter of the season?

The Chicago Bulls can’t seem to escape their flair for the dramatic.

No team has played more minutes in the clutch — any game with a margin of five or fewer points in the final five minutes — than the Bulls this season. The Bulls have logged 159 clutch minutes across 35 games this season. The next-closest team is the Sacramento Kings, who have tallied 129 minutes across 29 games.

For the Bulls, these finishes are both exhilarating and exhausting. But with less than a quarter of the season left, this is a pattern the Bulls are desperate to shake.

“We’re like a ‘Dateline’ episode or something,” DeMar DeRozan said. “It’s a crazy thing, but it’s big because we kind of relish in those moments and take it to another level. We try to continue to stress on not continuously putting ourselves in a tough position to dig ourselves out of a hole. It’s tough.”

Despite being a bottom-third team in the NBA, the Bulls rank among the top five teams in the league in most clutch stats: points (11.1, first), shooting percentage (47.4%, fifth), 3-point shooting percentage (39.6%, third), assists (2.1, first) and steals (0.7, second).

This is partially due to the unusually high number of their games that have finished in the clutch, but it’s also because the Bulls play their best basketball in a tight fourth quarter. The Bulls have gone 20-15 in these games this season — the third-best win rate of any team in the clutch this season. That means a majority of their wins (20 of 29) have been eked out in breathless finishes.

There are two clear reasons the Bulls keep improving in the clutch: DeRozan and Coby White.

DeRozan’s ability to close games in the fourth quarter is fabled around the league for good reason. He flexed that ability with calm confidence on Monday, going 7-for-7 from the field to score 19 points in the fourth quarter of a 113-109 comeback win over the Kings.

But the Bulls are more successful in the clutch this season because DeRozan has a reliable right-hand man in White, who claims the highest clutch plus-minus rating of any player in the league — a plus-87 over 158.7 clutch minutes so far this season.

But the Bulls also keep landing in the clutch for a reason. Their offense isn’t sustainable, relying on White and DeRozan to buoy their scoring. Even Monday’s win was an encapsulation of this weakness as the Bulls gave up massive runs in both the first and third quarters.

“We just don’t score enough,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We have droughts. When you’re playing against an elite offensive team, you have to at least maintain some level of pace. When we move the ball really well and generate shots and miss, we have to fight to get over that.”

In the third quarter of Monday’s win over Sacramento, White was tired. He wouldn’t admit it. But DeRozan could tell. It didn’t matter. The Bulls had a game to win.

“I told him at one point before we made the comeback, I’m right there with him,” DeRozan said.

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DeRozan and White can no longer afford the selfishness of exhaustion. They lead the league in minutes played for a reason — without White and DeRozan, the Bulls are defenseless.

But as the Bulls keep landing themselves in tight territory, it’s natural to question the sustainability of this model. Can the Bulls keep this up? And does it even matter?

The Bulls are essentially locked into the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference. They sit 4.5 games behind the Indiana Pacers in eighth and hold a 2.5-game lead over the Atlanta Hawks in 10th. Most importantly, the Brooklyn Nets sit a full five games back in 11th, which means cataclysmic change would be necessary for the Bulls to fall out of the play-in tournament.

The final quarter of the season is a short runway. With 21 games left, there’s little the Bulls can do to reasonably change their stature in the East — even if they keep scraping out unexpected late-game wins.

The issue, of course, is the wear and tear of these results. DeRozan, White and the rest of the starting lineup rarely get to take a breather in the final minutes of play. For now, however, the Bulls don’t care. Any win is seen as a sign of improved momentum — which will be necessary to carry this team out of the play-in tournament and back to the playoffs.

“At this point in the season, however you can get wins, you got to get wins,” White said. “I don’t care how we get them, I don’t care how it looks. At the end of the day, if we win, that’s all we care about. Sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes it’s not, a lot of the times for us it’s from behind but we always figure it out.”