Game 55 Recap: Raptors 118, Bulls 113

Well…that was a real bummer.

Joakim Noah’s return was supposed to mean great things for the Bulls. Darkness was going to become sunlight and pure evil was supposed to transform into delicious candy. The blind would see and the lame would walk.

Instead, the Bulls were beaten by a Raptors team that had lost 18 of its last 20 games.

It’s not like Noah didn’t play well. He scored 7 points and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds (9 offensive) in his first 24 minutes and 36 seconds of playing time since the Bulls beat the Raptors in Toronto back on December 15.

But Chicago’s defense — which began the day ranked first in Defensive Efficiency and ended the night ranked second — was as out of synch as it’s been all season. The Raptors shot 58.1 percent from the field. That was a season-high for Bulls opponents. Toronto’s 118 points were the second-most the Bulls have surrendered this season.

The fact that the Raptors put up so many points without hitting a single three-pointer (0-for-5) highlights just how awful the Bulls D really was.

Toronto had 29 assists, went 32-for-34 at the line and scored 58 points in the paint.

Let’s face it: Everybody thought Noah’s return would improve the team’s defense. At absolute worst, it should have been a zero-sum situation, right?

Instead, the Bulls looked like they had never stopped anybody from doing anything ever. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out the players returned to the locker room to find their clothes and wallets gone. And then flew back to Chicago to discover their cars had been broken. Their locks changed at home. Their identities stolen.

Or maybe that was just their defensive identities.

Hey, coach Thibodeau: What went wrong?

“What didn’t?” he said. “Every aspect. Start with defensive transition, keeping the ball out of the paint, challenging shots. Every aspect of our defense went out the window. Offensively we scored more, but defensively it was a disaster.”

Added Derrick Rose: “Defensively, we just weren’t there. When we needed stops towards the end, we just couldn’t get it. You know us, towards the end that’s when our defense gets better, but tonight we just didn’t have it tonight, but we play [Thursday].”

Rose is right. The Bulls usually clamp down on teams in the second half. That never happened last night. The Raptors scored 30 points in the third quarter and another 33 points in the fourth.

Chicago actually took an 86-85 lead when Rose nailed a three with 11:15 to go in the game. But then Toronto started pouring in the points. Andrea Bargnani hit a shot at the rim, got fouled and converted the three-point play. Bargs added a couple more free throws on his team’s next possession. Sonny Weems connected on a short jumper and then a couple foul shots. Leandro Barbosa and Amir Johnson scored on consecutive possessions. DeMar DeRosen hit from 14 feet out. Barbosa got a layup and a 20-footer on back-to-back possessions and then converted a three-point play of his own about a minute later to put the Raptors up 107-100 with 2:48 left.

Then Rose — who scored 19 of his game-high 32 points in the final 12 minutes — scored a quick seven points (four freebies and a triple) to tie the game with 1:59 to go. Then DeRozen scored at the rim again. Then Rose tied it again with a driving layup. Then DeRozen drew a foul (on Rose) and hit both foul shots to put Toronto up by a couple. Then Rose drew a foul and hit his free throws to tie the game yet again. Then DeRozen drew another foul (on Carlos Boozer) and once again made both free throws.

After that, Rose finally missed (from 20 feet) and then Johnson hit yet another layup with 16 seconds left. Amir followed that up by blocking Derrick’s driving layup attempt with 12 tick on the clock. That pretty much sealed it.

So, no, the Bulls never could get a defensive stop at the end. Or…ever.

In all, the Raptors went 5-for-5 on dunks and 17-for-21 on layup attempts. According to Hoopdata, the Bulls usually hold their opponents to a 61.7 percent conversion rate at the rim. That number ranks 10th in the league. Last night, Toronto converted well over 80 percent of their shots at the rim. Basically, Chicago did everything short of laying out a welcome mat and personally escorting the Raptors to the hoop.

It’s such a waste. The Bulls are right there with the top teams in the East (and the league), but a disappointing collection of losses to sub-.500 teams (Bobcats, Clippers, Nets, Raptors, Sixers and Warriors) is going to haunt them down the final stretch. Hell, it’s haunting them now.

And please tell me: If the Bulls can’t stop Andrea Bargnani (24 points), DeMar DeRozen (24 points) and Amir Johnson (17 points on 8-for-8 shooting), how in the world are they going to slow down LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh tonight?

Said Rose: “I really don’t know [what went wrong defensively]. You’ve got to look at film, miscommunication, it was just our lack of energy on [the defensive] end. And we all know we can’t play like that. Thank God that we play tomorrow so that we can come out and play aggressive throughout the whole game and get back in rhythm.”

Added Boozer: “We learn from everything we do. We learn from practices, and obviously, games as well. We know for us, this is an offensive type of team and we played their game. We’ve got to make teams play our style of basketball and we’ve done a pretty good job of that all season. Tonight, we didn’t do a good job of that and it came back to kick us in the butt. We learn from this and we’ve got to hang our hat on the defensive side of the ball. We had plenty of points to win, but we gave up 118 and that’s not like us.”

He’s not wrong. And the Bulls don’t have many hours left to find themselves.

Revenge Game:
Okay, fine. James Johnson played well against the Bulls. In 26 minutes, he scored 9 points (2-for-4 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line) to go with 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. He also finished with a better plus-minus score (+9) than anybody on Chicago’s current roster.

I’m sure Raptors fans have to be thinking “If J.J. can play like this every night, we got ourselves a player!” Well, sorry, Raptors fans. J.J. can’t play like that every night and he won’t. That’s why the Bulls traded him.

TrueHoop Network:
Raptors Republic: “The 3rd quarter was really where the game was won. It gave the underdog belief that they were better on this night, and the team rode that confidence right till the end. Boozer couldn’t shot over Bargnani and wasn’t able to get around him on a few possessions. Amir Johnson gave him fits as well. Derrick Rose, who seemed like he was deferring to his teammates, was quiet. Let’s please give Jose Calderon some credit for not giving him space to shoot until that point. Rose did eventually go off in the fourth, but he got hot against Bayless to start the quarter.”

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

18 Responses to Game 55 Recap: Raptors 118, Bulls 113

  1. Inception February 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Boozer looked horrible on defense when he got backed in for the game-clincher…makes me wonder how far this team can go in the playoffs with Boozer’s obvious weakness.

    Thibs is going to have to bring his A-game from this point on…rotations, readjustments, etc…a win vs. the heat will cancel this demoralizing loss to the raptors.

  2. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob February 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Defensive letdown by the whole team due to the defensive star returning from injury. The Bulls defense is predicated on team work. What we saw was a disruption of the team by the insertation of a new element. This isn’t Hollywood. The expectation that Noah would step onto the court and the team would seamlessly play around him doesn’t always happen, especially in Thibs defense, which is predicated on making the smart switch.

    Todays game against the Heat will be interesting, but no true measure of where the Bulls are. I will be more interested in the March 6 game against the Heat, that will be a true measure of where the Bulls are.

  3. Inception February 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    @Boppin – agree with your thoughts on the Heat game….even though all the key players are playing, it’s not the best we’ll see from CHI…i’m actually expecting MIA to control this game and win…let’s just hope it’s not a repeat of the ORL blowout.

  4. bleigh82@gmail.com'
    bleigh82 February 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    IF Thibs is really going to give Thomas all the back up minutes that SHOULD be going to Asik…they should trade him right now and get Mayo. Thibs has been great, but his rotations have driven me crazy all year. The Bogans thing, not giving Lu any rest, and now a 38 year old who should be resting his old legs for the playoffs gets the minutes of a rookie whose presence defensively has been outstanding. I personally think if Asik is in more, all those Raptors layups are severely limited. It could be a one game thing, but I doubt it.

  5. gorditadog@aol.com'
    Gorditadogg February 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Ugh. With Bargnani playing outside it really exposed our defense. Without Noah/Thomas able to help inside Raps were taking layup practice. We need to fix, this won’t work against the Knicks.

    Tonight is second of back-to-back, but it’s not like we tired ourselves out playing defense last night. We might have some sore necks, from turning to watch defenders blow by, but we need to step up tonight.

  6. joaquim February 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    HUmble pies never taste good, huh?

    enjoy!!

  7. bodybagsteven@gmail.com'
    BFD February 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    I wouldn’t go selling JJ that short Matt…to be fair, we never really got a chance to see what he could do.

    The whole team just looked flat defensively. Not sure if it was because this was a trap game on the road that came after a long layoff with us having to play one of the best teams in the league the next night….but I wouldn’t doubt it.

  8. speed_to_ge@hotmail.com'
    tonious35 February 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Matt,

    Your team’s defense was Bawful to say the least. I was shocked that my Raptors managed to actually lead your Bulls in the 3rd quarter and managed to win when Rose had to turned on GOD-mode + Ref help. I knew we played a Bulls team with its defensive blinders on, we just got lucky.

    Another thing, our team just acquired your 1st Rounder of 2009 James Johnson. I do not know how you felt after he got traded, but damn he filled our needs for a starting SF (just one game, it was a “traded-from-a- dog-house-to-starting-lineup-BOUNCE”). He defended and blocked shots with effort that none of our SFs before could of done. I am having comparisons to this trade to the one that the Sefolosha trade did for OKC (*cough* shored up the defensive responsibilities away from Durant and Westbrook and help made them into a Western Conference contender). Just an anomaly for the Bulls they will play better tonight….

  9. Inception February 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    eh, not a trap game loss…they were in this position before and succeeded…remember the Pacers game they won rather handedly?

    the trade deadline is a few hours away, and reports are saying the Lee trade is dying down….blah…life with Bogans seems like a reality for the remainder of the season.

  10. reggiemcglory@yahoo.com'
    chitown4life February 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    I say this once again all those who said keep asik , how do you feel now.We cannot stay this corse our team needs scoring and needs it now Rose cannot alway be the only one who is a scoring threat and plays D, trade asik if it gets us the player or players we need to win, yes he is playing good and might improve in his game over time but we have noah and we need a two guard also a good back up to Deng. if we traded Jj what did we trade him for there are no players coming out of college that will improve our team also the team is playing at high level now Pax/ Gar hope you get my memo its time to make some changes to our team this year right now. this is not panic mode but its also not the time to be content, trading jj was not a popular move with me but you got a fisrt ronder but still for what if yr not doing anything with the pick you might as well of kept jj. the playoffs are coming tonight is a big game not a must win game record wise, but a must win game comfidence wise if we lose tonight especially after the bad game last night then our season may be over quickly once playoffs start. NY . the clipper the jazz all teams are making big bold moves to improve there team time for us to follow suit but make our own big spalsh do it get er done now …Peace make the trades get us mayo or price or hamilton or lee but he is not high on my list the rest are get it done …

  11. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath February 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    They might have held Asik out of the game just in case …

  12. cliniclysick February 24, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    @chitown4life: you make some good points, but please start using punctuation marks and capital letters. It’s so straining to try and decipher your posts. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    Bas loss, hope they can bounce back against the Heat.

  13. cliniclysick February 24, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Bas loss = bad loss

  14. TBF February 25, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    You know, Chitown4life, at the start of your stream of consciousness you say “Our team needs scoring”. If I’m not mistaken, we scored 113 and our defense waved a red flag all night. We need scoring?!

    I don’t care if you wrote the equivalent of Moby Dick in the rest of your paragraph, after that, nothing you could say would have any credibility. In case you missed it, Boozer threw in 24 and Deng had 19. I’m pretty sure that scoring isn’t the reason we lost this game.

  15. Luvabull February 25, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    Hope you’re right Inkybreath. Hope Asik is not going to be out of rotation now that Noah is back. Need a fresh Thomas for playoffs. Hope Thibs realizes that.

  16. letsgobulls_24 February 26, 2011 at 2:08 am #

    matt, ur funny. “roll out the welcome mat” lol

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