Valanciunas Injured in Raptors' 101 - 98 Win Over Bulls

Jonathan Daniel

It was the worst kind of win. The Toronto Raptors hung on for dear life to beat the Chicago Bulls, but lost prized rookie Jonas Valanciunas in the process.

"Jonas Valanciunas sustained a whiplash-type injury in final seconds. Taken to Rush Presbyterian Hospital for precautionary testing."

"Jonas Valanciunas will remain overnight in Chicago for observation. Test results are pending as team departs to Toronto."

If you missed the Toronto Raptors' 101 to 98 win over the Chicago Bulls last night, those tweets from the Toronto Raptors' Media Relations Account late yesterday evening tell you all you need to know.

Yes, the Raps got a win giving them 30 on the season, but it may have come at the expense of their prized rookie, who collided with forwarded Rudy Gay in the game's frantic final seconds, injuring his neck and having to be taken off the court on a gurney.

There's no word yet on the extent of the injury or if the Dinos will keep him out of action for any of the team's four remaining games on the season, but in many ways it was hardly a shock to see him go down. Valanciunas was the lone bright spot on the club of late, garnering NBA rookie of the month honours for March.

Considering the way this season has gone, he was due for some sort of misfortune.

The Valanciunas injury takes the focus off of another near-collapse by the Raps, who were up by as many as 15 early in the game before the Bulls, pardon the pun, came charging back. Chicago got within four at the half, and then despite again being down by double digits late in the contest, made this one very interesting with a late surge, and were a successful Nate Robinson halfcourt heave away from sending it to OT.

Nate's shot didn't drop though, and the Raptors survived despite playing what could best be described as Chicago's "B" team.

The Bulls got Richard Hamilton back for this one, but were without Joakim Noah (right foot), Luol Deng (hip), Taj Gibson (sprained left knee) and of course Derrick Rose (left knee). That meant it was the Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson show, the two combining for 50 of the Bulls' 98 points. Carlos Boozer also chipped in 19 in the loss but it was Butler who was extremely impressive going 10 of 12 from the field, hitting all three long-range bombs, and grabbing seven rebounds, and causing all sorts of mismatch issues for Toronto.

In the end, Toronto gets the W on the night but this was another classic edition of 2012-13 Raptors' basketball.

-The team started off the match strong, playing to its strengths, but then began settling for contested jump shots as their opponent found a way to close the gap on the scoreboard.

-The bench was fairly awful again, Terrence Ross (13 points) being the only player to give Chicago any sort of resistance, and this unfortunately came almost solely in the first half.

-Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan combined for 39 points, but at times were part of that "settling" issue, and Gay, despite one of his better offensive performances, was still only 6 of 14 from the field.

-Toronto's offence down the stretch could at best be described as "frustrating," and yet again a game that looked to be an easy win, turned into a real grind in the final minutes.

-The Dinos gave up 13 offensive rebounds, which helped the Bulls keep this one close despite some sputtering offense.

If Toronto had turnover issues that would basically have completed the game-plan for the club over the past 30 games or so, however that was one area the Raptors did a good job with last night.

And Amir Johnson, not only recorded another double-double, but also showed off his professional photography skills.

In the end though, it was another disappointing affair as Toronto barely beat what was essentially a D League club, and potentially lost their biggest upside player for the rest of the season.

These final four games can't go by fast enough.

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