GAME NIGHT FROM THE UNITED CENTER.
Raptors:(25-10, 11-9 on the road) Bulls:(13-24, 9-9 at home)
TV: NBC Sports Chicago: Neil Funk, Stacey King. 7PM tipoff.
RADIO: WLS 890 AM : Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, Steve Kashul.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Mirotic: 18 ppg. Raptors: DeRozan: 24.9
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen and Mirotic each with 7. Raptors: Valanciunas 7.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 6. Raptors: Lowry: 7.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS: October 19 @ Toronto. Raptors 117 Bulls 100.
Valanciunas: 23 points 17 rebounds. C.J. Miles: 22 points (6-3s). Robin Lopez: 18 points. Lauri Markkanen: 17 points.
November 7 @ Chicago. Raptors 119 Bulls 114.
DeMar DeRozan: 24points. Valanciunas: 21 points, 10 rebounds. Bobby Portis: 21 points, 13 rebounds.
Series Average: Bulls scoring 107 points. Shooting 45%fg and 3 point range 30% fg.
Raptors vs Bulls: 118 points. Shooting 50% fg, 3 point range 48% fg and 84% ft.
CCI KEYS TO THE GAME: Watch tape of the the past several seasons and unquestionably the Bulls- Raps series has seen it’s moments of bizarre ball games. One thing is constant though and that is Toronto’s intent to establish the presence of center Jonas Valanciunas early in the game. He has carved up the Bulls in the low post and I expect Dwane Casey to go to him from the opening tipoff.
DeMar DeRozan is coming off a franchise record scoring night tallying 52 points against the Bucks. DeRozan took 29 shots and even drilled 5 threes in the process. He is a terrific mid-range jump shooter but has never averaged better than one made three ball per game in a season. As much as I am a huge Vince Carter fan and I still believe he’s the greatest Raptor in the history of the franchise, I must admit my judgement is clouded since I called games when Carter arrived on the scene in 1998. DeRozan is the best “player” in Toronto history but Carter is the most “impactful”. Without Carter I’m not sure basketball takes off in Canada the way it has.
The Bulls have suffered two painful losses but the players and coaching staff are NOT discouraged by any stretch of the imagination.This is a confident group of young and talented players and while the bounce of the ball may not always go their way, the Bulls play with effort and unselfishness which reflects the attitude of Head Coach, Fred Hoiberg.
Lauri Markkanen is playing at a high level the past three games averaging 20 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, shooting 50% from 3 point range (11-22).
Niko Mirotic has three double-doubles in 14 games.
Kris Dunn is averaging 19 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists the past four games.
NBA NEWS AND NOTES:
Isaiah Thomas made his season debut playing 19 minutes, scoring 17 points and dishing out three assists and for good measure picked up a technical foul as the Cavs beat the Blazers. Damian Lillard returned to the Blazers lineup after missing five games and poured in 25 points. The Cavs are in Boston tonight to play a well rested Celtics team.
The Western Conference Player of the Week, The Clippers’ Lou Williams, is on fire. He scored 33 in a win against Memphis and is averaging over 21 points and already has 8-30 point games off the bench this season.
The Hornets blasted the Kings by 20.
Greg Popovich moved in to sole possession of fifth place on the NBA’s coaching wins list as the Spurs took care of business at MSG against the 18-19 Knicks.
Atlanta blew a 10 point lead with 2:53 left in the 4th quarter as the Suns got 34 from Booker, 31 from Warren and won in Phoenix. The Hawks are 10-27, 3-16 on the road.
Always a pleasure. Happy New Year. I love all of Bulls Nation. Run With The Bulls!