How do you know when things are going good: You don’t drop the ball when tying your laces.
Raptors 110, Bulls 78 – Box

Brilliant game by the Raptors. Totally and utterly outclassed the Bulls from the opening tip. This was about the closest to playing a perfect game the Raptors have ever had. So sitting there the whole night and watching the game, I had this surreal feeling where I realized that this is what Laker/Celtic/Spurs fans feel like every single game. Not once did I have that pit in my stomach where I knew it was all going to fall apart at any minute, which kind of made the game boring because I wasn’t on the edge of my seat.

You know what though? I’ll take it. Those anxious moments have taken years off my life.

This game was won in the first quarter, masterfully. It all started with attacking Noah in the paint. The guy is their heart and soul, there is no question. Rose is the future, but Noah is the guy who comes to work and does all the things necessary to win. His stat line in the first 4 minutes: 4pts 2rebs (2orb) 1ast. Neither Bargnani or Bosh was able to do anything about him. The Raptors had a 5 point lead when he got pulled after his 2nd foul, but I worry how he would have worn down Bargnani over the course of the game if he didn’t pick up those fouls. How did they get him into foul trouble? DeRozan and Bargnani attacking the rim. Not from getting nicked on the wrist during a shot, even though most of the Raptors points came on the perimeter, it was play in the paint that won us the game. *mental note*

It was all DeRozan in the 1st, Heir Canada reminded us how valuable a shooting guard who can attack off the wing is. 3-7 in the frame, but 3 ridiculous dunks that cost me my sandwich as it flew out of my hand while I was cheering (my dog quickly grabbed the schnitzel from between the buns, fml).

Back to DeRozan, 11pts in the 1st but nothing for the rest of the game. With all those free looks at the basket, I would have liked if he got more. We literally moved away from him after his good work to start the game. If the commitment is to develop him, last nights game was a perfect opportunity to teach and let him make some mistakes and succeed in a game situation.

The second quarter saw a surge by the Bulls. They attacked and attacked and attacked, relentlessly. Pargo was the spark-plug that lit the Bulls offense early, what a solid piece this kid is. They seemed to score at will, but the Raptors matched point for point. The difference was that a lot of the Bulls points were the result of one-on-one play, but the Raptors moved the ball around and got someone a great shot. The Bulls got 6 assists in the frame, but they were more a case of the shooter hitting a tough shot then a playmaker creating a good scoring opportunity. The Raptors did the latter, it was nice :)

Highlights:

Defense
Yes, they are talking, and it’s a beautiful thing. The Raptors helped each other on precision rotations; every time a Bull would get close to the paint, people would collapse and rotate forcing tough shots.  The Raptors forced the Bulls to beat them on the perimeter, and they couldn’t.

Offensive Rebounding
18 for the night, wow. Rebounding as a whole was perfect (53), but when you get 18 more possessions, you put yourself into a situation where you can win. Bosh pulled down 7 himself. To put that into perspective, Noah led the Bulls with 7 total rebounds, just saying (Max Player).

Bench Play
The bench did nothing the night before, but after the starters logged massive minutes against the Wizards, you knew these guys would get the call. And they answered. The bench combined for 48pts 24rebs 17ast 5st 2blk. With no starter playing more then 29 minutes, the bench drove this game for us. You know things are going well when Jack stops in the middle of the game to tie his shoe laces, and the Bulls just watch, epic.

Coaching
Great substitutions, perfect minute allocations, the right people got the ball at the right times. Hot hands were fed. Aside from DeRozan not getting enough burn, Triano was at his finest.

Heart
A night after winning a tight one in overtime, and the starters logging big minutes, no one would could have blamed the Raptors if they folded the second game of a back-to-back on the road. But these guys had different plans. They played aggressive, got out to a lead, and played as a team to withstand the run that never gained any steam.

I think pride is a good word here. I am super proud of the Raptors performance the last two games. They solidified a big road win with a statement win the next night. Let’s make these team meetings a weekly occurrence.

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