Quick Reaction: Raptors 103, Bulls 116

Raps wake up for 3 quarters, then remember that they're the Raps.

Chicago Bulls116FinalRecap | Box Score103Toronto Raptors
Amir Johnson, PF 32 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-5 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -4 +/-That statline for me was a great “wait, what?” moment – poor Amir looked like one of those guys who gets his hands on every single loose ball the other team touches. He battled, but he can only do so much against Gasol and Noah, even when he’s at full strength.

Terrence Ross, SF 36 MIN | 7-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -1 +/-His first half was the best he’s played all season. The Raps seemed to pull a few plays out of DeMar’s playbook for him, and he scored off curls in the midrange and drove and dished, in addition to his usually-dangerous 3 point shot. He cooled off in the second half, but it’s because he didn’t shoot. When the guy is this hot, you have to keep feeding him the ball. Had his issues chasing Dunleavy around Bulls screens, too.

Jonas Valanciunas, C 31 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +3 +/-Dude worked his tail off tonight. Loved the battling against Chicago’s veteran front line on the boards, loved the post play, really loved the kick out pass to an open Vasquez on the pick and pop. Pau Gasol gave him plenty of trouble outside the key, but Jonas made him work for it, which is, honestly, all you could have expected him to do.

Greivis Vasquez, PG 31 MIN | 7-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +1 +/-Without him, the Raps aren’t in this game after three quarters. He was more or less unconscious from 3 for the entire game, and through that set up the rest of the offence. Unfortunately, his defence was as bad as we’ve come to expect, and that’s a huge reason why the Raptors lost. That said, he, like Lou Williams, is going to lose half a grade because of his struggles on the perimeter. Unlike Williams, he went underneath the screens rather than try and fight through them, with similar results. Guy was the MVP tonight, but it needs to be pointed out.

DeMar DeRozan, SG 39 MIN | 7-19 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -16 +/-I wasn’t unhappy with how he started the game – he let the team ride their hot hands (Vasquez and Ross) and did some nice work as a facilitator. He managed to get his scoring numbers up in the second half, but it seemed to come as a result of the team losing the passing rhythm they seemed to have re-found in the first half. Bad technical to end the third, regardless of how you feel about the reffing, and he looked really tired down the stretch. I hope he doesn’t get ridden too hard with Lowry out.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 4 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8 +/-Got four minutes of run, and didn’t do anything notable, besides get big-brothered by Pau Gasol.

James Johnson, PF 13 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5 +/-Hey, he played! That’s something. Thirteen minutes is still far too little time, but when he was out there, he was effective for the most part, finding his way to the rim offensively and allowing the Raptors to mix and match starters around him with his ability to guard small-ball fours. Got eviscerated by Nikola Mirotic a couple times, but I’m convinced that guy’s not human.

Patrick Patterson, PF 28 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -17 +/-Didn’t score, but did a lot of the little things you’d like to see – his post passing was better than usual, and he did a great job with tip outs and other hustle-type plays. I would have loved to have seen him utilized more to stretch out the Bulls bigs, but it didn’t hurt the Raps for 3 plus quarters. He wasn’t why the Raptors lost tonight.

Louis Williams, SG 24 MIN | 8-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -18 +/-I kind of like point guard Lou. It seems like a role in which he’s a bit less hesitant to waste possessions, and he was very effective on offence (late in the fourth, the only effective player on offence) all night. His inability to fight through Bulls screens on the perimeter (along with Vasquez and Ross) is a real issue for these Raptors sans Lowry.

Dwane Casey
I’m not giving him anything higher than a C tonight – that’s residual from last night’s debacle. That said, he earned the highest grade I’d consider giving him by having the team fired up and ready to go for the first half, finally remembering James Johnson was on his team, and doing a good job of mixing and matching lineups. Was the team’s defence good? No, not even close. Was this the best effort we’d seen in a good, long while? Yes, definitely. He’s a problem, but he’s not the reason the Raptors lost tonight.

Four Things We Saw

  1. It was totally refreshing to see the way the Raptors starting this game – fully reliant on ball movement and scrambling hard on defence against a good team, it’s no stretch to say that the first quarter was the best the team had played since the All-Star break. The Raps only had 2 turnovers at the half, and finished the game with 7, which is a nice stat.
  2. Of course, that refreshing nature turned to cynicism when you realized that the good times couldn’t possibly last. Chicago is a REALLY good team, even without Derrick Rose, and they ground through the Raptors’ hot stretch, slowly picked holes in the defence (which turned out to be setting off-ball screens on their perimeter shooters) and eventually caught fire in the fourth, coasting to a win.
  3. This was a tough loss, but it wasn’t a soul crushing loss – the Bulls are a better team, and the Raptors did well to stay in the game (lead, even) for as long as they did on the second half of a back to back. Fatigue really looked like a factor late, especially for DeRozan. Overall, though, this was a nice bounce back performance, and against a team that isn’t the calibre of the Bulls, the Raps might have won via blowout.
  4. This post – and my grades – my sound a little optimistic, but taken apart from everything that’s happened in the last couple months, this was a perfectly passable performance. That’s not exactly inspiring, and there are real, serious flaws here that need fixing, but tonight’s game, taken in a vacuum, was actually pretty good until the Raptors lost their legs down the stretch.

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