After two straight wins after the All-Star Break, the Chicago Bulls were dealt a hammer blow as they fell 104-98 on the road to the Toronto Raptors. Given how close the two teams are in the race for the play-in spots, this defeat will have a major impact in who will be playing in late April.
Chicago played well for the first three quarters and even had the lead as the two teams headed into the final 12 minutes.
Then all of the Bulls issues were put to the forefront and ultimately aided in their loss. Chicago failed to limit multiple chance opportunities for the Raptors, leading to extra possessions. The Bulls offensively didn’t help either as they were very careless with the ball, leading to fast break opportunities for Toronto. There were multiple times down the stretch where the Bulls had it at a one possession game and forced a missed shot. But then it was followed up by a Raptors offensive rebound or a clunky offensive possession from Chicago.
The fourth quarter was also around the time Toronto started to knock down shots from three-point land.
It was another rough loss where the Bulls faded down the stretch and everything we have worried about with this team showed up again.
As a team Chicago shot the ball pretty well at 52.1 percent and their three-point percentage was solid too (40 percent). However the problem was volume as they attempted just 25 three-pointers, which was stark in contrast to Toronto who had 42 tries. The Bulls got dominated on the boards, losing the rebounding battle by 12 and committed 19 turnovers.
Nikola Vucevic led the way with 23 points, five rebounds, and four assists. In a contrast to how it has been recently, he was solid at spreading the floor by knocking down four shots from downtown. While he was Chicago’s leading scorer on the night, he did commit the most turnovers as well.
Zach LaVine struggled to continue his hot shooting from three, going just one of five yet he continued to find other ways to score the basket in a 17 point effort. He shot 50% from the field and added three assists.
DeMar DeRozan struggled against Toronto’s defense as their gameplan was to limit his influence and impact. The Raptors were even doubling team him on the catch late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 13 points on five of 11 and even missed two free throws in the fourth, which was uncharacteristic for him. He struggled with foul trouble and had the lowest +/- of any Bulls starter.
Patrick Beverley scored eight points, dished out four assists, and even grabbed seven rebounds in his 29 minutes of action. Alex Caruso contributed six points and six assists.
Ayo Dosunmu was the highest scorer off the bench with 10 points, six rebounds while going five of seven from the field. Patrick Williams had eight points but it came on just five shots. Andre Drummond made an impact in his 16 minutes with six points and 10 rebounds. Coby White struggled to score the ball efficiently but was a playmaker with five assists as he once again showed that he is expanding his portfolio on offense.
Toronto had four starters in double digits with Pascal Siakam scoring 20 while Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points off the bench.
Rebounding and sloppy offensive execution continue to be the kryptonite for Chicago. Even when they are playing solid defense, they can’t seem to get out of their own way to make life easier for themselves. Given where they are in the standings, these are must-win type of games. They notched one against Washington but took a step back with this defeat in Canada. The Bulls will continue to fight to get into the play-in but time is running out for them.
Chicago has a quick turnaround with a second game back to back taking place at Detroit in less than 24 hours.