Did I watch that game? Sort of. Did I enjoy it? not really. The picture and sound quality from WCIU was terrible, and the basketball wasn't much better. I probably wanted to watch it as much as the Bulls wanted to play it, barely even a night after their thrilling OT win over the Knicks. They did show signs of fatigue against Toronto, a team that hadn't played since they beat the Bulls this past Tuesday, and the Raptors did it again with a 97-88 win.
A lot of the characteristics of that loss held true tonight: the Raptors showed some athleticism and an ability to make plays. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan again had big-minute 20-point (ish) nights. Kyle Lowry was a rebound away from a triple-double and had his way getting in the paint against Hinrich and Robinson. The surprise offensive performer was Amir Johnson, emboldened by the garbage time his Raps season had become and expanding his range: entering the game 3-8 from three this season and hitting 1-2 tonight. Johnson was also a pretty good 9-14 from two on his way to 24 points. The Raptors were extremely aggressive and pushed the pace into a lot of lob attempts (with sporadic success) and a parade to the free-throw line. Toronto was 27-33 from the line, and it was a marked difference from their non-AmirJohnson's going only 1-6 for the entire game.
But they exposed a Bulls team that looked kind of beat. Noah and Gibson didn't play again. Hinrich was on a seeming (sensible!) minutes restriction as he was under 20 after playing 50+ the night before. Or maybe he was just bad. The Bulls faced a 15 point third-quarter deficit that was brought down to 4 by some Jimmy and Nate plays, but neither got to the heights they did the night prior against New York. Nate wound up with a pretty solid line (17 points, 6 assists) but also saw a few of his attempts land just short. Butler's Scottie Pippen trajectory saw a speed-bump as he was merely 2-6 for 7 points in 36 minutes. He did force Rudy Gay into a few terrible airballs, so that was cool.
The one Bulls bright spot early was Carlos Boozer,, who scored 17 in the first half as he more than matched what Amir Johnson was giving him on the other end. Booz battled foul trouble all night though and eventually fouled out after only 31 minutes. He scored 2 points in the second half. Nazr Mohammed also had one of his handful of very good games this season (it's happened in this late stretch), with 16 points and 5 offensive rebounds.
Rip Hamilton wisely didn't even want to see how the game ended, getting himself immediately ejected with a high elbow to the face of DeRozan. He was one of the smart ones. Even the Toronto fans in attendence were bummed they didn't get their version of the Big Mac prize the Bulls give away at 100 points, being audibly disappointed their Raptors late 3s didn't go in when they were at 97 points. Hey, join the club Canadians: we were all kind of worse off after watching this one.