Boyball was in full effect as the Bulls battled the Raptors in an absolutely hideous Sunday evening game heading into 2019. The Bulls competed hard and trailed by just three points with 1:21 left after a long Lauri Markkanen 3-pointer, but two Kawhi Leonard free throws, a missed Kris Dunn jumper and one last Raptors offensive rebound for good measure helped Toronto earn an ugly 95-89 victory.
The Raptors were atrocious offensively from the opening tip, shooting 34.4 percent in the first half (it was 40-39 at half) and settling on 37.0 percent for the game. They shot just 9-of-27 from distance and weren’t even close on a number of attempts. The Bulls deserve credit for their rotations and consistently challenging shots (Wendell Carter Jr. didn’t even pick up any fouls), but the Raptors also missed a ton of bunnies (18-of-36 at the rim) and all those 3-pointers as part of their woeful shooting performance.
Of course, the Bulls were also terrible offensively, shooting just 41.3 percent and turning the ball over 18 times, leading to 21 Raptors points. Zach LaVine had a real rough night, going 3-of-17 from the field while missing all three of his 3-pointers. LaVine forced a lot of stuff inside and had issues finishing against the Raptors’ length and athleticism, though he probably could’ve gotten another call or two (he did take and make seven free throws).
All five Bulls starters scored in double figures, with Markkanen leading the way with 18 points, though it felt like he had a mostly quiet game. Six of those 18 points came in the last minute and a half.
While the turnovers were key and helped the Raptors win the battle of fast-break points 13-2, the rebounding was also a big factor. Toronto snatched 17 offensive rebounds and racked up 24 second-chance points to just 10 for Chicago. Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka combined for nine offensive rebounds themselves. The Bulls are a horrid offensive rebounding team, but at least Carter was working hard down low and grabbed four offensive boards. Carter had an outstanding game with 16 points, 11 rebounds and a plus-9 plus/minus.
The Bulls’ other rookie, Chandler Hutchison, also had an impact with one of his best games. Hutch had two impressive lefty finishes in his first stint and ended the third quarter with a pretty 3-pointer to make it 68-65. That triple gave him 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting.
Strangely, Boylen yanked Hutchison to begin the fourth quarter and didn’t put him back in the game. Hutch only played 14 minutes to 40 for Justin Holiday, who had a perfectly fine game but really shouldn’t be playing 40 minutes under any circumstances, let alone on a rebuilding team that should be developing its young talent. Hutchison should be getting more minutes even when he’s not playing well, but to only get 14 when he’s feeling it is asinine stuff, especially with Jabari Parker out of the rotation.
Outside of Hutchison, the rest of the Bulls’ bench got smoked. The Robin Lopez Post-Up Offense was an absolute disaster as he missed all four of his shots, turned the ball over twice and was a game-worst minus-17. Ryan Arcidiacono and Shaq Harrison had moments here and there, but the Bulls were smacked when they were on the floor.
Now, while this was largely a ghastly affair, but Kris Dunn did provide one of the highlights of this season with his absurd poster of Ibaka:
So, the Bulls enter 2019 with a 10-27 record and a whole lot of Boyball ahead of them. While the Bulls are playing hard and competing, these games are certainly a slog to get through. Hopefully, at some point, Boylen lets the young guys loose a bit more.
Happy New Year, Blog a Bull! Let’s hope 2019 brings better fortune for the Beloved.