I was ready for 700 words.
When the Chicago Bulls went into halftime down 58-47, I figured I might as well get the coffin ready. While I knew this team was more than capable of a second half comeback, I also knew they were more than capable of losing that game by 20+. I just didn’t know which version of the Bulls we were going to get when they took the court.
Fortunately, we got a calm, collected and confident version that played without optimism after the All-Star break. Will that team stay on Friday night or will I post those words?
- Let me preface these bullets with: Yes, I know we’re talking about fighting for no more than an 8 seed. This season already has to be seen as a significant disappointment. But the fact is, the bulls have been above .500 since late February. If staying competitive and making the Play-Ins was the new goal this front office set (and it was), I have to tip my hat to them for making it happen.
- Growth occurs at different rates. Could it be too little too late for this version of the Taurus? Absolutely. However, I will still enjoy all the signs of growth that we happen upon. And last night was a pretty big fat sign. Instead of playing the “woe is me” card and faltering on the big stage, the Bulls once again held their heads high. Even when the Raptors hit contested 3s and came out with their usual trail-breaking offensive rebounds, the Bulls showed no signs of fear. The team increased their physical fitness and stuck to the game plan given by the head coach. Lots of applause. Lots of high fives! Lots of motivation.
“we were good” DeRozan said of the team’s early struggles. “No one panicked. We just knew what we had to do. We put ourselves in a hole, but we understood what we had to do to get out.”
- Perhaps the best part of the team’s 19-point comeback was Zach LaVine leading the way. He got a header and a rebound right into the teeth of the Raptors defense. The entire team seemed to feed off his aggressiveness and energy level, including teammate DeMar DeRozan.
- I liked how DeRozan adjusted offensively to last night’s game. Few teams have had much success limiting his mid-range jumpers this season, so the six-time All-Star didn’t even bother hunting that spot on the court. Instead, we watched him bulldoze through the defense and get to the rim. Six of his nine shots came within 6 feet of the basket in the second half. Overall, he went 7/9 with his look at the rim. DeRozan’s 23 points on 10-19 shooting facilitated his best performance against the Raptors this season.
- Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend the Bulls strictly stole that game from the Raptors. While the 19-point comeback deserves a lot of praise, Toronto helped Chicago tremendously with a historically poor performance at the free throw line. The Raptors missed 18 FTAs and finished the night 50 percent at the charity stripe. How bad is that? Well, it was the most missed free throws by the Raptors since 1997, and only the 11th time we’ve seen them shoot that badly on so many attempts since 2003. CHGO’s Will Gottlieb shared the chart.
- I’m not trying to sugarcoat it, but it’s a choke job that I would never forget if I were a Raptors fan. I would probably fight every time my team made a free throw for at least the next five seasons.
- Of course, that terrifying free throw performance wouldn’t have been possible without Diar DeRozan’s bloodcurdling scream. In case you somehow missed it, DeRozan’s daughter screamed at the top of her lungs every time Toronto went to the lane. You can see the video here.
- Diar is now an internet sensation. Here’s the proof…
- Even LaVine knew who the true MVP of the game was.
- Both Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams deserve serious shout-outs for their defensive efforts last night. Caruso finished the night with 3 steals and 3 blocks. Two of those steals came in the Bulls’ valiant 4th quarter. As for Williams, while his box score may not have been as eye-catching as Caruso’s, his physicality was the difference-maker. Whether it was covering Jakob Poeltl in the paint and forcing him into a turnover, or getting locked into Scotty Barnes along the perimeter, making a poor pass to Fred VanVleet, Williams was instrumental in setting the defensive tone for the Bulls.
- This video made my heart so happy.
- Cool…but we all know how much you wanted to beat them.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder ended the season of the New Orleans Pelicans last night in the other 9-10 Play-In game. I still can’t believe how young that list is…
- I knew she was #1 on my nightly wish list for some reason.
- Great stuff here from Tab.