Your Chicago Bulls dropped the first game of a home-and-home back-to-back with the team that drafted DeMar DeRozan in 2009, the Toronto Raptors. Sloppy ball-handling from Chicago, combined with Toronto’s length and agility (plus a too-late timeout call from Billy Donovan), doomed the Bulls down the stretch. The final tally: 113-104. With the loss, the Bulls fall below .500, 5-6, on the season. The Raptors now sports a 6-5 record.
Both teams were missing an All-Star. The Bulls sat Zach LaVine to rest that balky knee, while All-NBA Raptors power forward/center Pascal Siakam is set to miss at least the next two weeks’ worth of games with an adductor strain.
In the game’s first quarter and the start of the second, the Bulls were the aggressor. Chicago was up 30-21 at the end of the first period, thanks to early offense from Nikola Vucevic (eight points, four assists), DeMar DeRozan and Javonte Green (the latter duo had six points apiece).
Chicago led 36-23 with 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter, when everything kind of went to hell. The Raptors suddenly cranked up their defensive intensity and shot-making to go on a dominant 32-13 run. They closed out the first half leading 55-49.
Starting point guard Ayo Dosunmu and DeRozan went off in the third period. During the frame, Dosunmu notched 10 points and DeRozan chipped in 11. After Donovan subbed Caruso in for Dosunmu with 2:21 left in the period, lineups featuring Goran Dragic, Caruso, DeRozan, and Derrick Jones Jr. closed out the quarter on a 12-3 run. Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams split time as the fifth player alongside the other four during the stretch.
Chicago and Toronto traded buckets to start off the fourth quarter. Aggressive play courtesy of OG Anonuby, Scottie Barnes and Rockford native Fred VanVleet helped the Raptors pull away on an 8-0 run late. With 2:16 remaining, Billy Donovan opted to hold off on requesting a timeout, hoping that the Bulls would get back into the game with some fast break offense. But it was not to be, and he finally called for a break with Toronto leading 111-02 and 1:30 remaining.
It proved to be too little, too late, and Toronto held on to win, 113-104. Vucevic notched an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double and had six assists. Caruso had a very Carusocore double-double of his own, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists, while scoring just four points on 1-of-11 shooting from the field. Among the Bulls’ starters, AC Fresh registered the only positive plus-minus on the night, managing a +15.
Goran Dragic again scored with incredible efficiency, pouring in 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting (including 4-of-6 from deep) across just 20:47. The guy is just a bucket, even as an NBA senior citizen (he’s 36).
Dragić bringing the hot sauce to Toronto!@Goran_Dragic | @NBCSChicago pic.twitter.com/m5JZ737ZLk— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) November 7, 2022
DeRozan finished with 20 points on 7-of-9 field goal shooting and 6-of-6 free throw shooting. With Zach out, Toronto made a point of trapping DDR early and often, forcing the ball out of his hands and letting Chicago’s other players try to beat them.
Patrick Williams at least looked aggressive for the fourth straight contest, taking 16 shots. He made merely five of them, finishing with 13 points and seven boards. Though he had a few cool takes, including this one —
Patrick Williams dunks through traffic pic.twitter.com/1Wv2LGdpEM— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 7, 2022
— seeing him play against the lengthy, switchable, engaged Toronto Raptors felt like a stark reminder that he’s still got a long way to go until he can be a consistent, reliable two-way pro.
We also got a brief Dalen Terry appearance. He played enough to notch his first-even NBA regular season points, finishing with four on 2-of-2 shooting!
Beyond struggling to contain the younger, longer Raptors (Fred VanVleet excluded), the big problem for Chicago tonight was protecting the ball. The team collectively had 17 turnovers (DeMar contributed five), compared to just nine for Toronto. The Raptors scored a whopping 23 points over those Bulls cough-ups. Toronto also led Chicago 11-5 in steals.
Chicago is hoping for better luck tomorrow, when it will play host to Toronto at the United Center. Presumably Zach LaVine will be available then.