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Bulls vs. Raptors final score: Chicago again narrowly avoids collapse in 111-105 win

Bulls folded under pressure again but made just enough plays to win

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Remember that Bulls-Raptors game from earlier this season? When the Bulls led by 20 points in the third quarter and then folded under pressure before pulling out a close win? Well, Wednesday’s makeup game at the United Center went a lot like that one.

The Bulls mostly dominated the first half and led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, only to see the Raptors storm back on the back of their pressure defense, some hot 3-point shooting and a parade to the charity stripe. But just like that first meeting, the Bulls did just enough to pull out the win, with Nikola Vucevic hitting a dagger 3-pointer to seal the 111-105 triumph:

It was fitting that it was Vooch who finished off the game, because he was the one who really had the Bulls humming offensively early on. He was on triple-double watch with 6/5/4 in the opening quarter as the Bulls ran out to a quick 28-14 lead. The Raptors made a comeback when the Bulls went to their bench (the Tyler Cook minutes weren’t pretty all night), with Gary Trent Jr. catching fire to kickstart a 32-point night that wound up with him getting questionably ejected in crunch time.

While the Raptors caught the Bulls early in the second quarter, Chicago’s starters turned on the jets to close the half. The Bulls’ Big Three of Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine crushed it in the opening half, combining for 45 points on 19-of-27 shooting. Chicago shot 62.2% from the field and racked up 22 assists in the first half, running out to a 67-50 lead in the process.

The Bulls still led by 18 about five minutes into the third quarter, but Nick Nurse then started pressing and trapping, and that’s when things started to go downhill. The Raptors went on a 13-0 run to turn that 18-point Bulls lead into a five-point margin. Trent scored 16 points in the frame to help Toronto get back in it again, though Chicago stemmed the tide and led by nine going into the final frame.

In a bit of weirdness, DeRozan picked up two technicals in the third quarter, but he wasn’t ejected because the first one was for grabbing the net while trying to block a shot. So when he was T’d up a second time at the end of the third quarter for complaining about an offensive foul call, he wasn’t tossed.

The fourth quarter was mostly ugly for the Bulls. They continued to struggled against the pressure and all that length and athleticism the Raptors can throw out there, and this was without Fred VanVleet on the court. Toronto kept chipping away and chipping away before finally taking its first lead of the game with 3:11 left on an OG Anunoby dunk. LaVine responded with an and-1 after being really quiet all second half, and not long after that was when Trent picked up his second technical and got ejected for clapping in the face of an official.

Trent felt he should have received an and-1 call on a basket that made it 107-105 with just over two minutes left, and he had a bit of a gripe given Ayo seemed to make contact. The Raptors had gotten a pretty favorable whistle all night, though, so the Bulls were happy to get this one. Toronto shot 28 free throws to just 16 for Chicago, but luckily the visitors made just 17 of those freebies.

The Bulls dodged some bullets after that Trent ejection, with the Raptors missing several good looks on 3-pointers and a pair of free throws. A horrific Vooch turnover with just under a minute to play gave the Raptors another chance to cut down the 108-105 deficit, but some strong defense by Javonte Green forced a Pascal Siakam miss, with Vooch grabbing the rebound and then hitting the dagger triple on the other end.

Vucevic finished the game with 17/15/8 while shooting 8-of-11 from the field and 1-of-2 from 3-point range. He also tied Ayo Dosunmu (not a good shooting game for him, but he did have zero turnovers in 38 minutes) with a game-high plus-20 in plus/minus. While Vooch did have four turnovers and struggled a bit against the pressure, this was a second straight strong game for him. The Bulls were a train wreck when he was on the bench (Cook was a minus-15), with the offense stagnating and the lack of sizing proving problematic.

DeRozan led the Bulls with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go along with seven boards and seven dimes. LaVine put up a similar stat line of 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting with eight rebounds and eight dimes. Both guys were relatively quiet in the second half, with DDR even falling victim to some of that pressure a few times. LaVine was frankly pretty awful in the second half, but the clutch and-1 helped prove to be just enough.

Also, shoutout to JaVonte Green, who had 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including a couple huge buckets in the fourth quarter as the Bulls were struggling. In fact, Green’s eight second-half points tied him for second-most on the team. Billy Donovan went with Green over Coby White in the closing unit, as White struggled through much of this game with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting and 1-of-4 from 3-point range while not providing much else.

The Bulls did still wind up shooting 54.8% from the field despite their ragged second half, though they were only 7-of-26 from 3-point range. The Bulls owned in points in the paint (68-46), the boards (45-34) and second chance points (12-7), but the Raptors outscoring them by 15 points from 3 and five points from the line nearly offset that.

Luckily, it did not, and the Bulls won again after nearly collapsing again. The Bulls now have 30 wins on the season, and they remain a half-game back of the first-place Heat. A Friday night road game in San Antonio against the Spurs awaits.

P.S.: Can we figure out a way to get Scottie Barnes’ mindset into Patrick Williams?