(Chicago, IL) The Toronto Raptors weren’t able to dig themselves out of their toughest stretch in recent memory as they lost their fifth consecutive game in Chicago on Sunday night, 118-95. The Raptors had won fourteen straight against the Bulls coming into this matchup.
This was a massive win for Chicago as they had lost two in row and had the opportunity to leap past Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings. They now sit at the 10th spot (17-20), while their opponents on the evening dropped to 11th (17-22). One thing is for certain: it was an incredible team effort from first-year Bulls head coach Billy Donovan’s squad. Despite Zach Lavine scoring “only” 15 points tonight (he averaged just under 29 PPG coming into the game), nine of their eleven active players finished in double digits. Former lottery pick Patrick Williams led the way with a career-high 23 points on 9/14 from the field.
Perhaps most worrying for Raptors fans is their team’s inability this season to produce on second nights of back-to-backs. This had become something of a cornerstone since Nick Nurse’s tenure with the Raptors started, however in this campaign Toronto has had the third worst point decrease in the entire NBA on second nights of back-to-backs, trailing only Houston and Brooklyn at -6 on average.
Notwithstanding, three things are certain in life: death, taxes and Kyle Lowry pulling all the strings he can to keep his team afloat, night in, night out. The former Villanova Wildcat racked up 20 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists despite the loss. He and Norman Powell combined for 52 points, more than half their team’s on Sunday night. The Raptors’ struggles from their subs continued against the Bulls as only Chris Boucher was able to get anything going with 17 points; the entirety of the rest of the bench combining for 12.
On a positive note for Toronto, their recently poor 3-point defense, illustrated by the buzzer-beating shot made by Tony Snell of the Hawks to win the game on Thursday night, was much improved against the Bulls. They limited Chicago to just twelve made buckets from deep, shooting at just 27.3% from beyond the arc.
Masai Ujiri’s squad were supposed to travel directly to Detroit in preparation for their next matchup against the Pistons on Wednesday night but elected in the end to travel back to Tampa first. Their hope is to finally be able to pick up several key players along the way, notably OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet who were out of the squad again today due to the NBA’s “Health and Safety Protocol”.
Last time out against the Pistons, the Raptors suffered a blowout defeat. They need a bounce back win more than ever before since Nurse has been at the helm in Toronto. Hopefully for him, he will be able to rely on a full legion when he heads into battle on Wednesday night.
Written by Thomas Debost