What a game.
The Toronto Raptors were able to claw their way back from a 19 point late third quarter deficit, as they managed to force their way into overtime against the Chicago Bulls.
In overtime, during each possession I was either standing up clapping in support of the hometown squad, or screaming at either a) the referees, who made various questionable calls down the stretch that may have costed the Raptors the game, b) Joakim Noah, who seemed utterly shocked every time a call didn't go his way, or c) Luol Deng, who hit made a very clutch bucket late in OT to win the game for the Bulls.
Despite the loss, and considering the lack of production from Toronto's starters, it's impressive that the Raptors came so close to beating the Bulls tonight. Which leads us to our MVP of the game...
Raptors MVP: Da Bench
The sole reason the Raptors had a chance to win this game, was the production they received from their bench.
Kyle Lowry had a breakout game, scoring 27 points on just 15 shots, while recording 7 assists and 5 rebounds. His flashes of brilliance during the fourth quarter of last night's game returned in tonight's match up, as he continued to gain his confidence back, and play a much more aggresive style of basketball.
Quincy Acy also had a breakout game, as he continues to prove he's deserving of more playing time. In his 15 minutes on the court, many of which were in pressure packed situations, Acy had eight points on 4-4 shooting, six rebounds, and took four charges from Bulls players.
Alan Anderson tied his career high in points, scoring 27 points in tonight's game. Anderson's defence, and efficiency on offence kept him on the court during key points in this game. He played great defence on Bellinelli at the end of regulation to send the game to OT, and made a clutch bucket with 1:30 remaining in overtime, to cut the lead to 1. Shortly afterwards he fouled out of what was surely one of his best career games.
Neither Amir Johnson nor Terrence Ross played one of their best games, but they did contribute to a Raptors bench that the Bulls seemed to have no answer for. Amir Johnson played great defence on Joakim Noah in OT, who is a tough player to cover, especially when the game is so close and offensive rebounds can be so vital. Terrence Ross played for just 14 minutes tonight, and although there were no physics-defying putback dunks, he was clearly more patient on offence than he has been as of late, and played solid defence on the other end.
Toronto's bench provided such a spark to the club, that Casey decided to stick a line up of three bench players (AA, Lowry, Amir) and two just two starters (DeMar, Ed) late in the fourth quarter, and in overtime.
The Andrea Bargnani Award (LVP): The Starters
Raptors starters: 84 min, 14-38 on FG's (36%), 39 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 0-3 on threes (0%), -62
Raptors bench: 142 min, 24-47 on FG's (51%), 66 points, 27 rebounds, 12 assists, 6-13 on threes (46%), +52
Need I say more?
RaptorsHQ Comment of the game: benjibopper
"Lowry. Anderson. Acy. Gettin it done.
If the starters come back now I will cry. Real tears."
BullsNation Comment of the game: via ProtoPunch
This was a very frustrating game, for fans of both sides. For the Bulls, they appeared to have the game in the bag, until the Raptors bench entered the game, and orchestrated a huge comeback to force OT. Amidst the comeback, Bulls fans were looking to vent their anger, and decided that Canada was a nice place to start. That led to this comment, that got me laughing:
"SOUTH SUDAN > CANADA"
Tweet of the game:
The ACC's pizza promotion has become an emberassment. Tonight it didn't cause as much embarrassment as it has in the past, however the loudest the ACC got all night, was when Amir Johnson hit the free throw to get the Raptors to 100. Holly Mackenzie sarcastically responded with this tweet:
BUT THE FANS WILL GET THEIR PIZZA, SO YOU KNOW.— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) January 17, 2013
Totally unrelated but interesting story of the day:
Manti Te'o, the incredible player out of Notre Dame, created a fake girlfriend, said she had Lukemia, and completely tricked every major publication into feeling bad for his loss, and believing that this woman was real. Well, he didn't fool Deadspin, who have revealed the truth about Te'o.
The Raptors next game is Friday, as they face the rival 76ers. Next, the Lakers will come to town, as the Raptors will get their first look at Kobe, Dwight, Nash and the rest of LA's crew. We'll be covering each and every one of these games live, so be sure to join us and chat during the games.