Bulls vs. Raptors: no Rose but a road wipeout

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With 4 days between games, even without Derrick Rose the Bulls looked prepared and focused for a thorough throttling of the Raptors on Friday night. Heck, maybe at this point the team is more comfortable without Rose than in re-integrating him.

The Raptors had just come off a big road win over Memphis but looked on Friday like a team that has a lot of players who you'd think are better than they actually turn out to be. Or at least looked that way against the Bulls defense, as Toronto scored a pathetic 31 points on 25.6% shooting. The Raptors shot 0-7 from three in that half, and while the Bulls did match going 0-4 they turned up their offense in the 3rd quarter and blew out the lead to over 25 points.

In Rose's absence, Kirk Hinrich put on a very fine backupQB-esque performance, playing 40 minutes with only 2 turnovers and distributing the ball well. His shooting only produced 12 points on 11 shots, but he played harried defense (Kyle Lowry shot 3-15) for much of the time too...so the only downside is hoping his body could take that (and further hoping it's only for 1 night). Carlos Boozer started out the game dominating the ball as the Bulls emphasized going inside-first. Boozer was 4-7 and Joakim Noah was 3-3 in that opening quarter.

The second half saw the Bulls finally hitting several three pointers in a game. Amazing. Butler was 2-2, Deng 2-3, Hinrich 2-5, and Dunleavy 1-2. The Bulls wound up with a very balanced scoring load with all starters in the range between 12 and 19 points, with Deng leading in scoring but Jimmy Butler showing some of that prior season efficiency with 14 points on 7 shot attempts. Butler did not have the easiest night defensively as DeMar DeRozan exploded in the second half amidst his team's huge deficit to finish with a game high of 37 points helped by 4-6 three-pointers. But no other Raptor was close to having a good night, Rudy Gay scored a couple garbage-time buckets and the 3rd-highest scoring Raptor had 6 points on the night.

In the 4th quarter behind DeRozan's play the Raptors did keep the Bulls lead mostly under 20 and even as low as 14 at one point. So while the game was not really in doubt it was close enough to force the starters to play a lot of the final period. Would've been nicer to see an opportunity for rest heading into tonight's game against the Pacers, but this win means just as much as that one would, and with the defense playing this well they certainly have a shot at a weekend sweep.

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