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Raptors 64, Bulls 77 – Box

Five games in six nights. It sounded kind of exciting at first when the schedule came out.

Can’t have too much basketball right? Not so sure about that now. It started off promising with a win against Minnesota, but here we are four straight losses later.

For those who fall in the pro-tank crowd, at least this kills any positive momentum the team had gained after a promising start to the season. It’s kind of going swimmingly from that perspective, actually. Players are developing, the defensive effort is clearly better than last years. So the culture is going through a welcome change. It’s almost unwatchable at times, but what was less watchable were the last few years where the team flirted with being one of the worst defensively in NBA history. Wonder how things might have been different if we had a more competent coach the last few years? Maybe Chris Bosh might have stuck around? BTW, would you even want Chris Bosh on this team? Be careful what you wish for.

Chicago predictably started the game well, as it rode all five starters for the entire 1st quarter. Toronto clawed back in the second on the backs on Leandro Barbosa, Gary Forbes and James Johnson. The teams traded blows, very slowly mind you, until the fourth quarter where Derrick Rose almost reluctantly took over the game. It wasn’t pretty and that probably says more about the Bulls than it does the Raptors.

The Bulls do not strike fear into you as a team that’s 12-2 should. They are well-coached and compete every night, although they did seem to have some trouble when the Raptors turned to a zone. But it just seems like they lack that extra gear needed to finish teams off, or as evidence in the playoffs last year, step up when it counts. If only Lebron had signed up. THAT would have been a team that would be a force to reckoned with, even though Joakim Noah hasn’t progressed offensively the way some expected.

What`s up with Ed Davis? He`s been given the chance to show something the last two games, and it`s been underwhelming. He needs to play more though, 19 minutes a game is not enough for a player with his kind of potential.

Gary Forbes showed something last night. Something, as in not nothing. Is there a quality point guard hidden in there somewhere? Even though it wasn`t a big signing, Forbes looked like he might be a steal, even though he’s looked just horrible in some stretches he`s played this year. Seems like a nice guy, so let`s hope he can build on this performance. Quite a lot of rebounds and assists for 16 minutes of burn.

One thing you learn as a fan is that some players will always think they can do more than they should. Case in point, Leandro Barbosa. He carried the team offensively, but if he shot less jumpers he would have helped the team last night, and on most nights. Instead, he continues to match every nice layup with an ill-conceived jumper. It`s clear Dwayne Casey has the respect of his players thus far, but a veteran like Barbosa is probably a tougher nut to crack. It`s a slippery slope for the coach anyway, because of the lack of offensive alternatives.

Let`s end with a comment on one of the core players of this team, part of the future, DeMar DeRozan. This game did not get him out of his slump. Fifteen points on 15 shots, mainly because he took zero free throws. Not really digging this trend. You need to drive the ball DeMar. That`s your game. Just because your shot has improved doesn`t mean you need to prove it constantly. In fact, having a competent jumper should keep defenders honest and make it easier to get around them.

The Raptors now stand at 4 wins – 9 losses, yet are only 2 games out of a playoff spot. Yeah, it`s still the L-eastern conference.