Chaotic, ref-aided Raptors loss to Bulls sets unbeatable season precedent

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 27: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 27: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls finished off a basketball game that won’t be remembered for a very long time outside of their respective fanbases. Having said that, even though this was just the second game of the season, this game will be seared into the cerebellum of both teams for a long time.

This game had everything a masochistic NBA fan could have hoped for. Both teams went on separate long runs that saw Darko Rajakovc’s team lead by 14, trail by 19, and then go back up by 12. Toronto eventually fought back to the point where they had a double-digit lead with just six minutes left, yet they fumbled multiple times in embarrassing fashion.

Comical errors from Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam in the fourth quarter and overtime gave Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan multiple chances to pull out a win by a 104-103 scoreline in the extra period. Neither team deserved to win this atrocity of a basketball exhibition.

Between the referees calling an obscene number of charges against Toronto, almost giving the Bulls a free basket near the end of the game due to a goaltend that was overturned, and being so happy with their whistle that Toronto had two big men foul out, they are complicit in this absolute atrocity of a finish.

Toronto Raptors’ loss to Bulls will be the dumbest game of 2023.

The Raptors and Bulls can’t come out of this game feeling too proud about their overall effort. With Toronto’s bench playing as poorly as possible in the first half and OG Anunoby leaving the game due to cramps, the battle scars Toronto will need to patch up could linger for quite some time.

The reactions to this contest will be a real litmus test for Raptors fans. Positive ones will point to the fact they overcame a nearly 20-point road deficit against a team with some terrific defensive players, while negative ones will point to three specific occasions where a win slipped through their fingers.

Meanwhile, Chicago blew multiple golden opportunities to slam the door shut. Between DeRozan’s missed free throws in regulation and their defensive capitulation early in the second half, Billy Donovan and a team that already had a players-only meeting after the first game didn’t cover themselves in glory.

It’s hard to win in this league with two big men fouling out, no bench, and Anunoby missing down the stretch. With six of their next 11 games against the 76ers, Bucks, and Celtics, all the positive vibes Rajakovic picked up risk being ruined by nothing more than old-fashioned incompetence and poor situational awareness.