Another Bulls victory.
Minus Rip Hamilton (old). Again.
Minus Derrick Rose (groin) too. It was the 15th game this team has played without Rose.
The Bulls have won 11 of those games.
(And yes, Tom Thibodeau should be named coach of the year, no question.)
Actually, for much of the game, the Raptors were the aggressors. Usually, opposing teams can’t match Chicago’s energy, but last night the Bulls couldn’t match Toronto’s. For about three quarters anyway.
Then the fourth quarter happened. And what a quarter it was.
The Raptors were wearing camouflage uniforms in honor of Canadian Armed Forces Night, but they couldn’t hide during that final period. The Bulls went on an unthinkable 20-0 run and outscored the Raptors 32-13. John Lucas (all 13 of his points were scored in the fourth) and Kyle Korver (all 10 of his points were also scored in the fourth) outscored Toronto 23-13 by themselves.
In all, Chicago’s reserves outscored the Raptors’ bench 28-3 in the final 12 minutes.
Talk about depth.
Said John Lucas III: “Our starters came in in the third and played hard. When you see that you come out and try to match their intensity. A lot of our shots were falling. I got it going, Kyle [Korver] got it going. Luol [Deng] kept it up the whole night and Taj [Gibson] and Omer [Asik] played big with defensive stops and rebounding.”
Speaking of defensive stops, here’s a quick summary of Toronto’s “offense” during that 20-0 f ourth quarter run:
Missed three, missed 21-footer, missed three, missed 21-footer, missed 22-footer, missed 21-footer, missed 6-footer (blocked by Asik), turnover (Deng drew a charge from Linas Kleiza), missed 17-footer, missed 21-footer, missed layup (blocked by Deng), missed 14-footer.
So the Bulls forced the Raptors into long jumpers…and the few attempts Toronto made to get to the rim ended in blocked shots and a turnover.
Now that’s some defense, folks.
Said Carlos Boozer: “We knew what it was: Winning time. “Everybody just stepped up. Everybody that was out there did a great job of making the extra play, the extra stop, the extra pass.”
Winning time indeed. Make it 101 wins in the last 131 games for the Bulls.
Still, Thibs wouldn’t be Thibs if he didn’t direct a little stink eye toward the first three quarters, which apparently was not-winning time.
Said Thibodeau: “We were low-energy on defense and offense. Our passing was way off the mark. Even the ones that we completed, we were taking guys out of rhythm and we turned the ball over in the first half … which put them in the open floor.”
So chalk up another ugly, plodding, grind-it-out for the Bulls. They get a rare two days off before facing the Raptors again (this time in Chicago) on Saturday.