In a game where neither team led by more than nine points, the Raptors seemed to get a little separation in the fourth quarter with a 10-3 run that gave them their largest lead of the game at 102-94 with 4:39 to play. But Derrick Rose responded with the final seven points of a 13-5 Bulls run that tied the game 107-107.
The Raps didn't wilt on this night though. In the final 1:14, DeMar DeRozan hit four straight free throws, Amir Johnson then stuck a tough layup over Carlos Boozer followed by a crucial block on Rose the other way and three more at the stripe from James Johnson and Sonny Weems iced it.
Too tough to choose between Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan, as both turned in very solid performances and shared team honours with 24 points apiece. Bargnani used an aggressive mentality to get to the line 11 times, added eight rebounds for a second straight night to lead the Raps in that category and had his moments defensively.
DeRozan continues his evolution offensively. He was aggressive with his drive but also showed plenty of poise with smart passes, his ability to draw fouls and makes on all eight of his free throw attempts.
Really impressive effort at both ends from Amir Johnson, who typified the elevated energy level for the Raptors throughout Wednesday's win. Johnson's at his best rolling hard to the rim in a two-man game, but he showed some strong post up moves -- including the potent up-and-under against Boozer in the game's final minute. He finished 8-8 from the floor, becoming just the fifth player in Raptors history to have a perfect shooting night with at least eight attempts.
He followed that huge late bucket with a big block on Rose to give him three on the night and 19 through eight games this month.
"If we hold this team to 43 percent, I’m pretty pleased with that but I think we can still get better. I think that the effort and the aggressiveness is there, it’s just a matter of getting the experience and the know-how of when and how to foul and being a little bit quicker with our rotations. At half time we addressed some of those things and I thought we were better in the second half."
- Jay Triano, on the defensive effort
Wed., Feb. 23 vs. Suns
7PM, Sportsnet One, FAN590
The Raptors try and ride this momentum into Friday, when they host the Suns. It should be an interesting atmosphere as fan favourite Steve Nash and former franchise player Vince Carter make their first appearance as teammates at ACC this season. The Suns remain the only team the Raptors haven't faced this season and have won 12 straight meetings coming into Friday's matchup, which is also Basketball North Night at ACC.
|.581||Raps' shooting percentage -- a season-high for a Bulls opponent.|
|32||Free throws made by the Raptors, one shy of a season high|
|0-5||Three-point shooting for the Raptors|
|19||Fourth-quarter points for Bulls guard Derrick Rose|
|17||Assists for Jose Calderon, who has 10+ assists in a career-high six straight games|
|"My plus-minus is outrageous so I’m going to play hard every time I strap up. You can expect me to play hard."|
- James Johnson on the energy level you can expect
|"Every game is a trap game, you have to be ready to play and obviously we weren’t so that’s on me."|
- Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau on looking ahead to the Heat
|"Defence. Our defence was the key. We had some key stops down the stretch and that's what won us the game."|
- Amir Johnson, on the fourth quarter