Bulls fall to Raptors, 122-98
Bulls fall to 20-37 in the regular season
It wasn't long ago the Bulls dominated the Toronto Raptors. Last February, the Bulls celebrated their 11th consecutive victory over Toronto. It's now five consecutive Bulls losses and a four-game sweep this season as the Raptors Wednesday dominated the Bulls in a 122-98 victory.
The Bulls played an excellent first quarter, leading 33-27 and shooting almost 60 percent. It was all Toronto all the way after that with a double digit Raptors halftime lead that they extended throughout the second half with little Bulls response.
The Bulls were led by Bobby Portis off the bench with 18 points. But it was a major Toronto bench performance with 56 points from the reserves. Lauri Markkanen had 14 points, Zach LaVine 11 and Robin Lopez 10. Toronto had a season best 38 assists and controlled the game even with star DeMar DeRozan scoring seven points. Kyle Lowry had 20 points and 10 assists. The Bulls were four of 24 on threes and had just 17 assists on 39 scores.
Toronto is 41-16. The Bulls are 20-37. The Bulls will not play again until Feb. 22 with the NBA All-Star game this weekend.
Kris Dunn was back after missing 11 games with a concussion suffered against Golden Star Jan. 17. The Bulls were 3-8 in that stretch with a seven-game losing streak. The Raptors came into the game with the best record in the Eastern Conference and third best record in the NBA. It is the fourth game Dunn, LaVine and Markkanen, the players from the Jimmy Butler trade, playing together. Dunn opened the game taking the Bulls first shot and made the short jumper. The Raptors then grabbed the early lead going inside to their big men, Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka driving the ball. It was a 17-11 Toronto start. The Bulls responded with one of their better offensive stretches, nine scores in 12 possessions, a 9-0 run highlighted by LaVine with a hesitation drive and dunk and Grant moving the ball around as Lopez and Holiday had eight points each. The Bulls with 58 percent shooting led 33-27 after one quarter. A big edge for the Raptors this season has been the play of their reserves, who pressure more on defense and play at a faster pace. They did so with a 14-2 run early in the second quarter as the Bulls gave up transition scores with turnovers and got virtually every shot from Portis. That run made it 43-38 Toronto, and then the Raptors added another burst, this time 13-4 and carried that to a 61-49 halftime lead. Pascal Siakam off the bench was one of three Raptors players with a dozen first half points. The Bulls had just two second quarter assists and shot 25 percent with the starters missing nine of 11 shots. Meanwhile, Toronto had 20 first half assists. The Bulls were just three of 13 on threes in the first half. Toronto had a 27-14 bench scoring edge at half.
Toronto kept the ball moving around to open the second half, spreading out the court for threes and drives as they took a dominant 85-61 lead. The Bulls had reverted to quick shots ad isolation play and coach Fred Hoiberg even drew a technical foul in exasperation. The Bulls got some acceleration in their game with David Nwaba and Markkaken having some success inside working with Dunn. Dunn would finish his 20 minutes with eight points and three assists. The Raptors with 29 assists through three quarters would go into the fourth quarter leading 95-76. The Bulls didn't appear much engaged in this game as the Raptors made sure there was no significant run as they scored eight straight after Denzel Valentine started the fourth quarter with score. The Raptors continued to penetrate and find open shooters, scoring inside and out and sending the Bulls into two timeouts in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. It was a 112-86 Toronto lead with six minutes left. The Bulls then brought in little used Cristiano Felicia and Noah Vonleh for his first playing time as a Bull. Vonleh scored his first basket with a drive for a three-point play to draw the Bulls within 120-98.
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