Toronto Raptors Let Game Slip Away Against Undermanned Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose and Luol Deng Pace Bulls to a come from behind victory
The Toronto Raptors let a 10 point lead in the third quarter slip away as the Chicago Bulls, led by Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, fought back for a 110-103 preseason win at the Air Canada Centre.
The Bulls were missing three key players on Wednesday night, as newly acquired Kyle Korver (sore ankle) and Carlos Boozer (right hand) sat out with injuries while Joakim Noah was out with the flu.
 
 
Bulls guard Derrick Rose
(centre) puts up a running floater
over Raptors centre
Andrea Bargnani.
Despite being undermanned, the Bulls had very little trouble with the Raptors. Rose nearly had a triple double, as he finished with 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, while Deng chipped in 22 points as well. The Raptors were not able to contain Rose’s speed and quickness on the floor, as the team lacked the energy and jump they showed against Phoenix on Sunday.
"I think they cranked it up a little bit and we tried to and we couldn’t,” said Raptors coach Jay Triano.  “We got outworked in the game, but I’ll take a little bit of the blame for that. We practiced hard this morning.”
 
“We’ve been going hard yesterday and the day before. We just didn’t seem to have the legs, our closeouts, which we’ve been working on everyday, seemed a little bit slow, allowed direct line drives, weak side guys were slow coming over. All the stuff we drilled, were the things that they kicked us with. It’s disappointing because it’s what we’ve been working on but at the same time, we’ve been going hard…but no excuse we have guys that didn’t play as hard as we need to.”
 
 
Jarrett Jack (right) dribbles around a
pick set by teammate Reggie Evans (centre)
Surprise, surprise but another area of concern for Toronto was their defence. One thing that Raptors fans know all too well over the past few seasons is the team’s inability to play good team defence from start to finish. Once again the players let some bad habits creep up into their game in the second half as the Bulls used the pick and roll to perfection.
 
“Our pick and roll coverage wasn’t the best, allowed them to dig into the middle,” said Jarrett Jack. “They were able to get second and third chance opportunities.”

“But still, we got a team down 10, you can’t take your foot off the throttle, you got to put those teams away, especially against good teams like Chicago. We can’t allow those teams to hang around, if we do, these are the types of things that happen.”
One positive stat that can be taken from this game was the Raptors rebounding performance, as they held a 45-36 edge on the boards. Reggie Evans, in particular, was impressive as he led all players with 16 rebounds, including 7 on the offensive end.

Bargani and Evans both go up
for a rebound while Rose
and Calderon look on.

 

As the Raptors witnessed firsthand, Chicago will be a tougher opponent this season as they added lots of depth and made sweeping changes to their lineup over the offseason. Of the 16 players they have under contract, 11 of them are new additions to the team. The Bulls were not able to lure the big three this summer but improved their lineup by signing Boozer and Korver away from Utah, Keith Bogans from San Antonio and Kurt Thomas from Milwaukee. The signings should complement their core players of Rose, Deng and Noah. Chicago may not contend for top spot in the conference, but unlike last season, should comfortably make the playoffs in 2011.


Running of the Bulls
 
The quick start the Raptors were talking about after their last game lasted for all of three minutes. The Bulls, down 6-2, responded with a 15-4 run and were up by as many as nine points in the first quarter. The Raptors, however, did respond with a run late in the period to close the gap to 27-22.
Toronto continued their run into the second quarter, outscoring Chicago 17-9 in the first six minutes to build a 41-36 lead. The Bulls fought back to tie the game before Leandro Barbosa scored consecutive baskets to put the Raptors up 54-50 at halftime.

Bulls guard Derrick Rose

Toronto came out firing to start the third quarter as they built up a 10 point lead, but once again Chicago was able to hang around and slowly chipped away at the lead. Rose and Deng went to work and began to wear down the Raptors defence as they spread the floor and got everyone involved in the offence. The Bulls ended the third quarter on a 20-7 run and never looked back.

The Raptors lacked energy all night, looking more lethargic as the game wore on and had trouble with the Bulls’ bench players in the fourth quarter, especially Brian Scalabrine, C.J. Watson and James Johnson.
Toronto will close out their preseason schedule on Friday when they take on the revamped New York Knicks at the Bell Centre in Montreal. This will be the first game in team history for the Raptors in Montreal; tipoff is at 7 pm.

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Contact Aman Dhanoa at aman@oyetimes.com    

Photos courtesy of JP Dhanoa

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