The Toronto Raptors, who built up sizable leads several times against the Chicago Bulls, tried to give away another victory late in the game. A 9-point lead with 1:38 remaining became 2 with :17 to play.However, DeMar DeRozan hit both free throws for the last of his team-high 20 points. The Bulls’ last gasp, a half-court fling from Nate Robinson, wasn’t close, and the Raps were able to stagger off the court as winners despite being outscored 30-20 in the final quarter.
Jonas Valanciunas, the NBA Rookie of the Month for March, injured his neck on a jump ball with 10 seconds to play. He was fitted with a neck brace and taken to a local hospital for treatment on what has been described as a “whiplash-type injury”.
The Raps enjoyed balanced scoring on this night, with contributions from Rudy Gay (19 points), and three players (Amir Johnson, Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross) adding 13. Getting effective play from Terrence is a huge relief, after the mid-season scoring drought he endured. Quincy Acy continued bolstering his case for more minutes, as he chipped in 8 points and 6 rebounds. It’s clear the Raps are determined to take a long look at our rookies, now that the playoffs are out of reach. The kids are responding well.
For the Bulls, Jimmy Butler, an unheralded sophomore small forward, never got off the floor while scoring 28 points. He didn’t miss on 3 shots from deep. Little Nate also had a hot hand from beyond the 3-point arc, with 5 on 9 tries. The Bulls’ lineup was thin (Nazr Mohammed starting?) in the front court, but the Raps still managed to lose the rebounding battle 40-33. A paltry 3 offensive boards didn’t help.
Lowry was solid, with 10 assists against 2 turnovers, a happy ratio. Kyle needs to rediscover his stroke from deep, an essential weapon for the Raps. He made just 1 of 5 tries.
DeMar’s jumper was effective, and his high number of deep 2s made provides hope that he can extend his range over the summer. We could use a spike in 3-ball shooting from him.
The Raps come home after 2 wins in 3 games on the road. They get full marks for grabbing a win in the game following that pitiful effort in Milwaukee. This being the season for home and home games, it’s the Bulls who will try to ruin Friday night for the dwindling number of Raps’ faithful at the Air Canada Centre.