While the Toronto Raptors played three very solid quarters, a fourth quarter surge by the big and bruising Chicago Bulls led them to a 116-103 victory. The narrative flipped in tonights game as the Raptors came out flying in the first quarter leading 29-20 heading into the 2nd. The tough defensive effort and purposeful offence would continue until the fourth quarter where the wheels came off. The Bulls would put up 39 points in the final frame to the Raptors 21, sealing the deal.
Fatigue, and the injury of Kyle Lowry certainly played a factor in the collapse, but its hard to ignore the fact that the Raptors were simply outclassed by a more talented team in the Bulls.
While the team was missing Lowry, the Raptors certainly put forth a commendable offesnive effort against the defensive minded Bulls. The team shot 47% from the field and 9-21 from beyond the arc. Greivis Vasquez shouldered a lot of the scoring load, putting up 22 points on 15 shots including hitting six from three. As Matt Devlin would say the #3iskey.
At the core of the Raptors struggles in the past month has been their lackadaisical play on the defensive side of the ball. Tonight would be no different. The Bulls shot a blistering 60% from the field and a 52% from beyond the arc. The Bulls were exposing the holes in the Raptors’ porous defence, almost scoring at will in the fourth quarter. The Bulls attack was a highly balanced one, as five players put up more than 15 points for the game.
Considering the Bulls’ size and hard-nosed identity, the Raptors out-rebounding the Bulls 35-31.The Raptors also only allowed the Bulls to grab two offensive boards. These stats are likely only positive takeaways from tonight’s action.
Game Ball: Jimmy Butler
The far and away leader in the NBA’s Most Improved Player race put up a near perfect performance against the Raptors. Butler totalled 23 points and 5 rebounds on 7-8 shooting. If Butler is at the top of his game, with a healthy Derrick Rose, the Bulls may be THE team to beat in the Eastern Conference.