It was only a few days ago that the Raptors were on pace to become the worst defensive team in the history of the NBA.
The numbers still aren't great but they're getting quite a bit better in quite a hurry.
"We didn't realize in the past the mistakes we made," Chris Bosh said. "Now we recognize them and have admitted to those and are working to eliminate them. It has only been two games now and we still have a lot of work to do, however, it is nice to have two wins in a row."
The Raptors' intensity on defence held up through four quarters.
Granted, the energy provided by the opposition had something to do with it. Joakim Noah managed to get himself tossed out of this one with a second technical five minutes into the third quarter. He couldn't have looked less interested at that point.
The highlight reel began with a lob from Jose Calderon that Miller appeared to anticipate. But just before it went into Miller's hands, DeRozan floated into the picture and snatched the ball and threw it down in one motion.
DeRozan credited some rudimentary Spanish lessons from Calderon for the perfectly executed alley-oop.
"I think it's because he taught me how to speak Spanish," DeRozan said. "He knows when I say 'amigo' that means we're going for the lob. The chemistry is getting better and better every time out there."
With the exception of Chris Bosh, the most consistent Raptor this season has been Amir Johnson. He brings the same energy and hustle every night. Unfortunately, he also brings a penchant for multiple fouls. Last night was no exception as Johnson was in the game for only a minute in the first quarter before he had to sit down with two fouls.
DeRozan’s been a revelation in the last three games, far more aggressive going to the rim.
A moment from last night, early:
He catches the ball right in front of where we’re sitting and the defence sags so he shoots an 18-footer that misses badly.
The very next possession, he catches a pass in almost exactly the same spot and you can almost see him thinking about taking another jumper. Then you can almost see him think, ‘hey, what have the coaches been harping about for weeks?’ and he drives, gets fouled and makes two free throws.
“With payers out there like Jose, Chris, Turk, a lot of stuff comes easy, like wide open shots. I was settling for shots too much.”
Bosh had 25 points and 12 rebounds over 22 minutes and the Toronto Raptors made quick work of the Chicago Bulls in a 110-78 victory on Saturday night.
"It feels like I might be able to have a choice in doing something tomorrow, other than just recover," he said. "Maybe, I'll go to the mall or something."
Bosh accomplished plenty in his limited time. And so did the Raptors.
Some people might question his timing but I, for one, commend the man. Really, he’s quite the role model here. An untied lace is very dangerous. Especially on an escalator. Kids need to learn to fear and respect the escalator. There’s not a year that goes by — not a year — that I don’t read about some escalator accident that could have been avoided.
If the Bulls can't convince LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to come to Chicago next summer, the third player on their wish list of potential free agents likely would be center/power forward Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.
The Bulls' top priority still is a low-post player, and the 6-10 Bosh is a double-double machine who entered Saturday averaging 24.4 points and 12.1 rebounds. He almost hit those averages exactly against the Bulls with 25 points and 12 rebounds in the Raptors' easy win.
What's really disturbing for the Bulls is that they managed just 16 points on 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) shooting against one of the league's worst defensive teams; Toronto had allowed an average of 110.8 points on 47.8 percent shooting.
It's one thing to be held in check by a top defensive team like the Cavaliers; it's quite another to struggle against a team that usually surrenders points like a pinball machine.
The Bulls trailed 64-44 at halftime. NBA teams usually make at least one sustained run at home, but that didn't happen this time.
The Raptors scored the first seven points of the third quarter to go up 71-44. The closest thing the Bulls showed resembling fight the rest of the way was center Joakim Noah picking up his second technical and drawing an automatic ejection with 7:19 left in the third.
"We had good energy and we were good on the glass,'' Toronto coach Jay Triano said. "We had everyone helping each other. We were using all five guys on most possessions."
"We need to move the ball to be effective,'' Bosh said. "It's nice to have two wins in a row. It is something we can build on."
The Bulls, meanwhile, could not score inside, could not hit their outside shots, and found themselves climbing out of a deep hole after just eight minutes of the game.
"Our starters didn't give us any kind of start,'' Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "I'm disappointed we got off to such a bad start, but there are going to be days like this in the NBA."
But then, Saunders dropped a bombshell on the room.
"That was a typical regular-season game of non-playoff teams," he said.
With apologies to Toronto fans … that hurts if you're a Wizards fan. He followed it up by saying the Wizards shot too many threes (29, hitting 10), but that's really only a symptom of the problem. There's nothing particularly wrong with shooting a lot of threes, but there is something wrong with playing undisciplined basketball, which should be what Saunders was getting at. Here's how the Wizards ended their possessions in the first six minutes of the game.
This one was a coming out party for the entire team — with a huge lead, the bench got plenty of run, with Marco Belinelli (15), Rasho Nesterovic (12) and even the offensively-challenged Antoine Wright (10) all chipping in double digits. Jarrett Jack had nine assists in 32 minutes, carrying the point guard load after Jose Calderon left early in the third with a hip flexor. Also, more love to DeMar DeRozan, who’s looking more and more like an NBA player every time he steps on the court.
THE FAN is proud to present highlights (1) and the game recap (2) of the Raptors' 110-78 trouncing of the Chicago Bulls, courtesy Paul Jones & Eric Smith.
The president of basketball operations for the unnamed D-League franchise in Frisco, Texas joins Paul to remenisce on his career, evaluate the Raptors and talk about changes in the game in the years since he retired.
The former Toronto Raptors' assistant coach and current scout joins Jonesy to take a spin around the league and assess both the Raptors and Bulls thus far.
Back-to-back solid efforts have led to back-to-back wins for the Toronto Raptors as they continue to work on the defensive side of the court. Two games into their new-found commitment, Vicious D takes a look at where the tangible changes are.
# DeRozan took a big step these past couple of games? Did you see his face as he came back up the court after dunking on Miller? Eyes of an assassin – stark contrast to his usually happy-go-lucky demeanour – glad Turk told his ass to sit down though when he was dancing in the fourth – especially in light of LeBron's antics.
# Triano did good. Real good. How freakin' good was his call to NOT change the starting lineup at all starting from the Wizards game last night? If we lost, people would be asking for his head. He didn't succumb to the pressure, so I give him props for that.
The best thing we can take from this game was the sustained defensive energy displayed all throughout the game even when we were up by large margins in the second half….I don’t know exactly what was said during Fridays closed door meeting but whatever it was it seems to have worked. Let’s all hope our Raptors can give us this sort of defensive on a consistent basis.
Our next game us at home vs a Minnesota squad that I feel is much better than their record indicates, especially with the return of power forward Kevin Love. There is little doubt the Raptors take this one in front of the home town fans who get to see Niagara Falls, NY native Jonny Flynn for the first time.
Not a single Bulls player tries to knock it away.
That basically summed up the whole game. The Bulls played worse than any team has ever played in any game at any standard in any season of any decade in any league in any country of any sport ever. They were listless, talentless and overmatched, with the playbook of a Corleggy cheese and all the energy of a bag of spanners. They fought like a Frenchman on their way to losing 110-79, in front of a sold out crowd of men in suits who refused to boo as if they cared. It's the only time I've ever turned off a game because I couldn't stand to watch it. Bad, bad, bad times.
The Bulls did a sleepwalk through a positively dreadful performance, meekly succumbing 110-78 to the Raptors before a crowd of 20,481 at the United Center that even booed sluggishly.
If LeBron James was watching, he probably started dancing again.
That the Bulls came out flat at home, where they previously had been 5-1, was bad enough. Add in the fact the Raptors were playing their fourth game in five nights and coming off an overtime victory and words like unacceptable come to mind.
"We have enough professional sports teams," Russell Jacobs, a Toronto resident said. "You can't give Raptors tickets away right now. If we have a losing football team, no one will support them either."
"After the meeting we had, everybody realized we are a really good team, we just needed to play for 48 (minutes), we needed to play together, we needed to understand our roles," said Jose Calderon, who played only 19 minutes Saturday after suffering a hip flexor that he doesn't expect will keep him out of a practice, let alone a game.
"I think the last couple games, we saw everybody helping each other, everybody telling everybody if you make a mistake, it doesn't matter, there is going to be somebody else to help you.
"It's no problem at all."
The sad thing – wait a minute, make that one of the saddest things – about the Bulls' wire-to-wire blowout loss to Toronto on Saturday was that coach Vinny Del Negro rested his starters during the fourth quarter in Cleveland on Friday to save energy for the second leg of the back-to-back.
But the Bulls brought nothing to their home court, falling behind by 28 points three minutes into the second quarter and never making much of a dent in the deficit the rest of the way.
Considering the Raptors came into the game with an 8-13 record and giving up 114.5 points per game on the road this season, Saturday's 110-78 loss at the United Center should be regarded as a thorough embarrassment.
Until running into the Bulls, Toronto was one of the worst defensive teams in recent NBA history. The Raptors were giving up 114.5 points on the road this season, including 146 at Atlanta on Wednesday.
Toronto made a drastic roster makeover during the summer and has five foreign-born players getting significant minutes. A turning point may have come Friday when the Raptors held a team meeting to encourage better communication between players of different nationalities.
"It wasn't a split, in my opinion. It was more so just not knowing how to relate to different guys," Raptors star Chris Bosh told Toronto reporters. "Instead of calling someone out because they weren't doing their job or playing hard we kind of just kept it quiet. I mean, the more quiet you are the easier it is to get divided. You can divide yourselves just by not saying anything."
Watch the game between the Raptors and Chicago Bulls all in just six minutes.
Head Coach Jay Triano talks to the media following the Raptors victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.