What a game…what a game! Maybe not the result we were all looking for, but a tough matchup nonetheless.
The Toronto Raptors, who were winners of their last five games heading into this matchup just couldn’t pull through tonight against a tough Chicago Bulls team who stays undefeated on the road. The Raptors who are now 7-2 on the season met their match tonight against some elite competition losing 100-93 in a nail-biter.
Pau Gasol led all scorers with a huge double-double dropping 27 pts & 11 rebounds; most of which came in the first half of play. Toronto was led by Kyle Lowry who almost snagged his second triple double of the season finishing the game with a line of 20 pts 8ast & 8 rebs. The Raps were leading the Bulls 52-45 at the half, but quickly watched their lead dissolve as the second half commenced.
The Raptors were then outscored 33-14 in the third as the Chicago Bulls picked them apart with their length and ball movement. Toronto fought back during the fourth quarter with a stingy defensive effort, but it was a little too late as Chicago kept finding a way to execute down the stretch.
The Raptors scored 93 points tonight shooting only 40% against a team who are notorious for their defence. DeMar DeRozan had an atrocious shooting performance finishing the game with only 10 points on 3/17 shooting. As the Raptors searched for some consistency, James Johnson emerged with the hot hand scoring 14 points in the first half. The Raptors traded buckets with the Bulls early on, but just couldn’t get it going in the second half. It didn’t help that they weren’t getting calls, however elite teams need to find a way to battle through adversity and the Raptors failed to prove it tonight.
The Raps shot only 28% in the third as they were outscored 35-14, forcing them to fight from a disadvantage once again.
The Raptors defence was on point early in the game limiting the Bulls penetration doing a formidable job of containing Derrick Rose. The second quarter saw the peak of the Raptors defence when they went on to force 5 straight Chicago turnovers. Unfortunately, the Raps weren’t able to convert on most of those stops.
The problem with Toronto’s defence came on the interior as Chicago’s length bothered the Toronto bigs time and time again. Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah all seemed to have their way with whoever was placed in front of them on defence. Just when it seemed like Dwane Casey found the answer for Gasol, he reverted back putting Jonas Valanciunas on him, who was getting torched. It shouldn’t take 8 minutes going in the 3rd before switching your best post defender (Amir Johnson) on their best post player. These are the type of growing pains that Toronto is going to have to go through if they plan to become a truly elite force in the NBA.
The Raptors lost the battle of the boards 48-38 as Taj Gibson and friends kept gravitating towards the ball. The Raps lost crucial possessions to not boxing out their man, and therefore don’t deserve this victory as Chicago clearly wanted it more. Valanciunas was hitting the glass like a boss early on, collecting 8 rebounds by halftime, however he wasn’t able to stay on the court because of his defence inefficiencies. The Raptors aren’t a great rebounding team, and this game definitely helped to expose that.
Game Ball: Jimmy Butler
The game ball in tonight’s matchup goes to Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. His defence on All-Star DeMar DeRozan was impeccable throughout the night. He forced DeRozan into many tough jumpers, and just made it an uncomfortable situation for anyone he was matched up against. Butler finished the game with 21 pts, 9 rebs & 6 ast while sticking a very tough jumper in the waning moments of the game.