Raptors win a profane game against Chicago Bulls

The Raptors tried something new against the Bulls: playing hard, even if things didn't go their way.

Since the Toronto Raptors acquired Jakob Poeltl, it’s felt at times like they’re riding the sacred golden rays again. Like they’re the team of destiny once more. How else should the Raptors feel when Poeltl scores 30 points -- one off a career high -- in only 17 shots in his first week in town? Then a career high in rebounds, with 18, only a few days later? Yes, the Raptors faced poor competition. But they very quickly built a season-long winning streak, and everything started working all at once. The defense was solved, the offense potent, and the playoffs within sight. The whiplash was staggering. The on-court performance spoke with a sacred tongue, almost immediately, after Toronto found a starting center.

That optimism crashed into the brick wall of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 26. There was nothing sacred about that spanking. And without the sheer weight of “everything is fixed, all at once,” the Raptors had no power in the engine. The sacred fuel is always the first to flee at the first sight of competition.

But against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 28, the Raptors found a new fuel. It wasn’t the sacred fuel of the sun, of fate. It was instead something a little gnarlier, a little more common, a little less potent. It was the power of the profane rather than the sacred, the success of the workmanlike and the everyday. 

O.G. Anunoby’s definitive play of the game came not on his two triples -- both needed! -- but on a defensive rebound, falling down, that he hurled towards Fred VanVleet to keep possession with just over a minute left in the game and the Raptors’ claws desperately holding onto a lead. The Raptors played hard and smart, and that was just enough, even if they weren't always rewarded with made shots and other such luxuries.

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