Peek-a-boo!
Raptors 99, Bulls 89 – Box

All that was last night was a W. It wasn’t a moral victory; it wasn’t a matter of clamping down in the second half; the Raptors just had more gas in the tank. In what was the hardest game to watch so far this season, the Raptors stopped the bleeding from going 1-2 on the first half of the West coast swing, with a W over a Bulls team that had nothing left. In fact, the Bulls needed to be individually showered, changed and carried to the bus after the game.

Seems like the schedule has been our best weapon early in the season, as 3 of the 4 wins can be directly attributed to our opponent playing on the 2nd night of a back-to-back:

  • The Cavs lost to the C**tics
  • The Pistons upset the Magic at home
  • The Bulls were millimeters away from beating the Nuggets

It was actually amazing for me that the Bulls had any fight in them at all last night. I thought for sure that when Brad Miller’s shot at the buzzer was waived off, that they would be a shell of a team last night, but playing the Raptors seems to fix what ails every team.

True to form, it was a wild 1st quarter. Taj Gibson, a steal as the 26th pick in the draft this year, started fast by taking it right at Bosh early. Scoring 6 of the teams first 8 points, he was active on both ends of the floor. In fact, he was the story of the 1st quarter, finishing with 8pts 2rebs and an assist (he also ended up having a career game with 18pts 5rebs, another career game against the Raptors…sigh).

It wasn’t so much that Bosh wasn’t hustling in this match-up, he was battling in the paint and getting good position in the post; Bosh was just missing the shots he should have made. It didn’t hurt that he had his hands full on the glass, battling for rebounds, seemingly alone, against Gibson/Noah since Bargnani was nowhere to be found.

The haters were out in full force on Twitter ripping Chris a new one, but Bargnani literally did nothing until the 2:46 mark of the 1st quarter when a rebound landed in his lap (he didn’t grab it, it came right to him, he didn’t even jump or extend his arms to get it either), and hit a layup on the next possession. I don’t understand why Bosh gets ripped constantly while having an MVP calibre year, and Bargnani gets nothing.

The saving grace of the first quarter was the play of DeRozan and Calderon. Both of whom kept the Raptors in this one single-handedly. Our Rook was a beast around the rim, grabbing offensive boards, slashing to the hoop, hitting a three and finishing off the hop. His defense on Salmons was also pretty solid, since Salmons is one of those guys who has always given the Raptors a headache.

Calderon is improving incrementally. In fact, I had no problems with him last night. He pushed the ball hard, quickly answering made baskets by the Bulls with a layup on the other end. He did that twice on two straight possessions. Our boy has been pushing more this season then in previous ones, but still not that guy who attacks constantly.

The 2nd and 3rd quarter were just absolutely brutal. The second quarter was bad because the Raptors kept leaving someone open, and that someone would hit the shot. In fact, the Bulls took and made almost every single shot they wanted. They aren’t that type of team that runs you into the ground. This is a blue collar team that gets rebounds, and runs play for a good look at a jumper. So the 2nd quarter was all about the Bulls doing just that. They dropped 35 of them in fact, and headed into half with a 60-53 team.

The 3rd was brutal because the Bulls were getting the exact same shots, but not making them, and the Raptors couldn’t capitalize fast enough. They traded baskets for most of the quarter, but the Bulls had two stretches of 2+ minutes where they didn’t score a basket, letting the Raptors back in it. Calderon did a great job of pacing the offense, coming off screens, penetrating and kicking to open players, dropping 4 of his 6 dimes in this frame.

By the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the Bulls had nothing, absolutely zero. In fact, they were almost in danger of not scoring for the last 6 minutes of the 4th until Calderon fouled Hinrich with 10 seconds left in the game, and Kirk hit one of his free throws. How bad was it? 11pts…yea. Triano knew it:

“I think they wore down a little bit, too. Shots they were making earlier, they started missing. Whether it was the result of a back-to-back, or Jose and Jarrett (Jack) doing a nice job of picking up full court and making them work to get the ball up the court … they just seemed to run out of juice.”

That isn’t a glowing endorsement of your team after  a win. Lets just put this to rest right now before folks start getting excited about the 89 points surrendered: THE RAPTORS ARE NOT A GOOD DEFENSIVE TEAM. Nothing positive can be taken from this win. They did not make any incremental improvements from the last game. How can I say this? Well, you can’t surrender 108.6pts a game, and be accused of improving, especially when the last two contests you gave up 129 and 131 points in regulation play.

Four Factors to Winning

Shooting the Ball well
The Raptors shot 40.9% from the field, and the Bulls were 39.8%. Wasn’t a matter of shooting well from the field, it was a mater of marginally shooting better then a poor shooting opponent.
Raptors – 43.7%
Bulls – 40.9%

Taking Care of the Ball
Both teams had 99 possessions, but the Bulls turned the ball over less then the Raptors: Bulls – 13 Raptors 15. Most of the Bulls turnovers came in the 2nd half where they committed 9 of their 15 turnovers.
Raptors – 15.1%
Bulls – 13.1%

Offensive Rebounding
The Bulls grabbed 15 to the Raptors 11.  This didn’t give the Bulls more possessions as the Raptors (as they both had 99), but it did give the Bulls some cheap put-backs early in the game that paced their half-time lead.
Raptors – 26.1%
Bulls – 29.4%

Getting to the Free Throw Line
Like the other three Factors, this was a close one too, but the Raptors got to the line 2 more lines, going 22/23 on the game. Bosh was a solid 10/10 on the night.
Raptors – 26.1%
Bulls – 23.8%

What the Four Factors tell us is that this was a very close one. Had the Bulls not gone scoreless in the last 6 minutes of the game, this may not have ended positively for the Raptors as the Bulls missed 11 shots and 2 free throws in that stretch. Putting it into perspective, the Raptors only shot the ball better than Bulls by 2.8%.

Player Impact

Bosh was the man again, no surprise. Our boy plays like an MVP candidate, and gets ripped.

The Raptors head out west for a four game swing starting Friday in Los Angeles, fortunately it’s the Clippers, I’m calling it now (a Raptor win that is).

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