The Bulls saw a bench-driven unit led by a returning Bobby Portis take them from a massive hole to a decent shot at winning late, but the Bulls ultimately never got there and fell 119-114 to the Raptors.
Per usual we start with the focus on Lauri Markkanen, though he was relatively quiet in this one. In his first stint he hit two early straight-ahead threes, but also received two relatively quick fouls and headed to the bench. And for a long while he was somewhat invisible, stuck-to well by Serge Ibaka and naturally with the Bulls bad playmaking unable to get him more shots. Markkanen only hit 1 more shot the rest of the game, had just 6 FGAs overall, though he got some FTs along the way to finish with 12 points.
Unlike the opening night loss to Toronto, the Bulls bench didn’t get absolutely smoked ...well it took a bit longer, anyway. Bobby Portis had his first game of the season, and while it just seemed a bit wrong seeing him out there, he did play well in his debut stint with 7 points and Denzel Valentine had a couple playmaking possessions. But poor defense and some really awful turnovers from Felicio, Dunn, and Kay Felder (who played alongside Dunn a lot tonight) saw the 2nd quarter get out of hand eventually as they were down 20 at the half.
Their defense was just carved up for much of the night, allowing way too much penetration all over the court. Jerian Grant and Paul Zipser were especially abysmal in this department (David Nwaba was missed) containing the Raptors guards and wings, but even Serge Ibaka was able to get to the rim at ease all the way from the 3-point line in this play.
And with those dribble drives it opened up the three-point arc. The Raptors were 7/13 from beyond the arc in the first half, and even Jonas Valanciunas got in the act as part of his 16 first-half points, as he continues to feast when playing the Bulls.
The Bulls did score 36 points in the 3rd quarter, and stayed merely down 15-20 points almost exclusively by Robin Lopez, who started the game 10/11 from the field. That and some three pointers from Valentine and Holiday were not enough though to make much of a dent. The Raptors kept getting open looks, and even DeMar DeRozan hit a couple triples in the period.
The 4th was mostly garbage time to start, and that’s where Bobby Portis eats, baby! I mean, he was active, and Fred Hoiberg left him out there a while, ultimately 24 minutes overall and finishing with 21 points on 13 shot attempts. He also had 13 rebounds and 4 assists. Seriously, it was a bit weird seeing him out there getting praised for ‘hard work’ while the team was down big and frequently getting beat on defense...though actually that’s not weird: it’s Bulls culture.
But while there were fits of the effort lapsing in this game, to their credit the Bulls did climb back into it. They played with lineups with Portis and Markkanen at the 4-5, Denzel Valentine shot well, and the team kept chipping at it. The Raptors lead did get down to 6 with around 5 minutes left, and down to a single possession in under a minute.
But they never got totally there. DeMar DeRozan, who a possession earlier saw his pocket picked in the backcourt by Dunn (one of Dunn’s 4 steals), made enough plays down the stretch including this tough turnaround:
Man, DeRozan makes some insanely tough shots. Dunn couldn't have defended much better. Weaks the PnR, spins back when DDR goes left and stays down with the contest to avoid fouling pic.twitter.com/VuyHTHY6vB— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) November 8, 2017
DeRozan finished with a game-high 24 and Toronto shot over 53% from three in the game. The Bulls finished with a lot of kudos over their effort in digging themselves out of a hole they dug themselves into. So who’s the real winner I ask you?!?! (It was the Raptors.)
I should add that while it was a pretty poor performance from the Bulls until that late desperation, the telecast was quite good. That’s because Chuck Swirsky took over play-by-play duties from Neil Funk...turns out, providing actual information and being able to physically see everything truly did wonders.