Well that's a turd in the punch bowl.
After an encouraging first quarter in which Toronto leaped out to an 11 point lead on the backs of Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors went ice cold from the field for the duration of tonight's game and lost a discouraging contest to the Bulls 116-106. The loss runs their record to an ugly 0-3 against Chicago this season, with only a March 14th match-up remaining in the regular season.
In my pre-game preview, I stupidly rejoiced in the fact that All-Star Jimmy Butler wouldn't be playing tonight for Chicago, forgetting to account for the only guy playing in the game who owns an NBA MVP award. Derrick Rose was fantastic tonight, scoring 26 points and adding 6 assists for a hungry Bulls team that looked nothing like the reeling squad who dropped 6 of their last 7 before the All-Star break.
Pau Gasol was again a thorn in the Raptors side, posting an 18/11/9 line, while E'Twaun Moore continued to be a revelation for the Bulls, putting up a 9/7/6, coupled with a +15 rating, and being a primary reason the Bulls held DeRozan to 3 of 13 shooting after his strong first quarter.
However, the biggest X-Factor of the night was ol' McBuckets himself, Doug McDermott. He did what he does best and shot the lights out, to the tune of 30 points on 13-17 from the field, including 4 of 5 from deep. Led by McDermott the Bulls out-shot the Raptors from beyond the arc all game, nailing 43.8% of their attempts, while the Raptors struggled to an uncharacteristic 27.8% mark.
The game was a tough one for Toronto's normally effective bench unit. Bismack Biyombo posted a -12 and picked up four fouls in just over 15 minutes of floor time. Terrence Ross shot 1-6 from the field and posted a -16, looking lost on defense on multiple occasions. Patrick Patterson was the lone bright spot, putting up a 12/7/3, while hitting a pair of triples and managing to post a neutral plus/minus, despite the second unit struggles. This was aided by the fact that he got into the game early after Luis Scola picked up 2 quick fouls in the first.
It serves as another piece of ammunition for those clamouring for Patterson to be added to the starting line-up, but if that's what the second unit looks like without him, well, Moses smell the roses. Still, after Scola and James Johnson laid a giant egg tonight, you have to think a change to the starting lineup might finally be in the offing.
Jonas Valanciunas was another silver lining for Toronto. The Bulls had no answer for him in the paint and he tallied 25 points on 9-14 from the floor, adding 12 rebounds, 6 of which came on the offensive glass. If he hadn't picked up three fouls during the Raptors disastrous third quarter, his play might have been the ultimate difference in the game.
OK, Trade Deadline truthers. Go nuts.