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Bulls vs. Raptors Final Score: Chicago Noncompetitive for Majority of 117-101 Loss to Raptors

What did you honestly expect?

Chicago Bulls v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

I found it quite amusing that the very first play of the Bulls’ season consisted of a poorly-selected contested hookshot by Robin Lopez about twelve feet from the basket. I say that because if you told me this is how the first possession of the Bulls’ season went last year, I would probably believe you, and if you went on to tell me that it was also how the first possession of their playoff series against the Celtics went, I would likely give you the benefit of the doubt.

For a while, things didn’t seem all too different from last year. Jerian Grant struggled to run the offense, Paul Zipser moved around in a way that inspired optimism about his future, and Lopez led the Bulls in field goal attempts for reasons we may never understand. Though the Bulls played from behind for essentially the whole quarter, they managed to stay stride-for-stride offensively to keep the score close. The Raptors shot more efficiently than their counterparts, but they also committed enough turnovers to the point that the Bulls were able to get up five more shot attempts by the end of the period. The first quarter of the season for the Bulls ended with them down 25-23, and Justin Holiday led the way in scoring with eight points.

Okay, so not bad right? All Trashtors jokes aside, the Raptors are generally considered to be in the hunt for the top half of the Eastern Conference, and the Bulls actually kept up with them. Looks like those of us that doubted Hoiball are on the ropes, right?

Remember what I said about things not seeming all too different from last year? As soon as Hoiberg emptied the bench to open the second quarter, the Raptors—mostly their own bench—ripped off a 20-2 run over the next five minutes. The Bulls’ bench greeted the new NBA year by kicking things off with a collective -77 in only five minutes of play.

Everybody looked bad, but Denzel Valentine looked particularly disappointing with a 1-6 shooting performance during that stretch and his usual positionless-for-all-the-wrong-reasons defense. Look, as it applies to the Bulls, I hate to say I told you so... but if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and plays basketball like a duck; it’s probably Denzel Valentine. General Denzel “Ducky” Valentine is going to be a marvelous tank commander this year for a second unit that—even after one game—you can tell the NBA is going to have its way with on a nightly basis.

Anyway, matters didn’t get any better when the starters checked back into the game, as Holiday proceeded to automatically chuck the ball whenever he got it around the arc and Lopez lost whatever offensive “brilliance” he flashed in the first quarter. The Bulls registered only five points for the entire period with three minutes to go in the half, and yet, there would eventually be a silver lining! Quincy Pondexter—fresh off his third arthroscopic left knee surgery in three years and a separate life-threatening health issue related to his kidneys—got a breakaway dunk with a minute remaining in the half of what was his first NBA game in three years. Hats off to the man!

As for the rest of that final minute, Robin Lopez attempted a non-desparation three (he missed), and not much else noteworthy happened. The Bulls went into the locker room down 58-37 after allowing Toronto to post a 33 point quarter.

Despite what I’m sure was a rousing halftime speech from Mr. Fred Hoiberg, the Bulls didn’t come out and play well enough to get themselves back in the game to start the second half. Lauri Markkanen had a brief individual scoring burst, but Zipser picked up his fourth foul with eight minutes left in the period and the rest of the team struggled to make most of their shots. The Bulls got absolutely no production from any of their guards, although Jerian Grant and Kay Felder did combine for 13 assists, most of which came in garbage time. Of course, garbage time in this case was the final 30+ minutes of play; so take whatever fun stats you see in the final box score with a grain of salt the size of Gar Forman’s giant dumb head.

Here’s all you really need to know from looking at the totals from this game that ended with a final score of 117-101 in favor of the Raptors:

  • Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for only 23 points on 6-15 shooting and the Raptors still never let their lead dip below double digits for the final two and a half quarters of this game
  • C.J. Miles, Delon Wright, and OG Anunoby combined to outscore the entire Bulls bench 44-37. The Bulls’ reserves finished with an aggregate +/- of -75, and Kay Felder was the only one of the bunch that finished positive (+3).
  • Lauri Markkanen finished with less field goal attempts than Robin Lopez and took half as many threes as Justin Holiday. Neither of those things can happen regularly going forward if the Bulls want to develop their talent properly. Then again, they probably won’t be competitive in games anyway regardless if those things happen often.

So there you go, the 2017-18 Chicago Bulls season is off to a flying start. Players are punching each other, the starters are going through the motions on both ends, the bench is an absolute embarrassment, and Fred Hoiberg is as locked-in and animated as ever.

Buckle up, folks. We’ve got 81 more of these to go.