Today, you witnessed history. The last time the Toronto Raptors defeated the Chicago Bulls in Chicago, The Wolf of Wall Street was the hottest movie in theatres, Miley Cyrus was straddling wrecking balls, and Beyonce had officially given up in the creativity department with the name of her newest album. That win on the final day of 2013 means more in hindsight than it did to either team on the night.
Thanks in large part to the dynamic duo of Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet (not a typo), plus another outstanding performance from DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors finally left the Chicago house of horrors with a 124-115 victory.
Delon Wright recorded his first career double-double in what was the best game of his relatively young NBA career. Wright scored 25 points off the bench including 4-of-5 from deep. He also accumulated a career-high 13 rebounds. It seemed every shot that went up (at either end) was going to somehow end up in Delon’s hands.
Is Delon Wright the best rebounding guard of all-time?— Adam Iafrate (@CratesOfFrates) January 4, 2018
Every tipped ball — as evidenced by his four steals — also seemed to find its way into Delon’s hands. The former Utah Ute quietly added five assists while finishing a game-high plus-28 in just 30 minutes of action. Simply put, Delon was far and away the best player on the basketball court tonight.
Is Delon Wright the greatest Raptor of all-time?— Adam Iafrate (@CratesOfFrates) January 4, 2018
Not to be outdone, however, DeRozan (DeRay DeAllen?) led all scorers with 35, coming off of his career-best 52-point explosion on New Year’s Day. It took Double-D a little while to get going, but when he did, he morphed into the three-point assassin we’ve come to know and love. His 5-of-8 from deep on the night will continue to see his percentage rise beyond “respectability” into “let’s close out on this guy” range.
If DeMar is scoring the ball with the sheer ease he has of late, beating Toronto in a playoff series seems an increasingly daunting task.
Meanwhile, Fred VanVleet has earned the nickname Steady Freddy for his knack of stabilizing Toronto’s offense when things seem to be going awry. Tonight he did that, and then some. The nearby Rockford, Illinois native’s 13 points came on extremely efficient 5-of-7 shooting, which helped the Raptors offset some of Kyle Lowry’s struggles. (Lowry finished with 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting, but didn’t look at his best.) I’m scared to write any more about VanVleet in fear of jeopardizing one of the NBA’s best-kept secrets.
It wouldn’t be a game in Chicago if we didn’t award tonight’s Bull’s Random Superstar Performance Of The Night. This time out the award goes to Justin Holiday! Holiday entered the night averaging a very solid 13.3 points on just under 36 percent from behind the arc. He scored 26 on 67 percent from deep versus a normally stingy Raptors defense. Congrats Justin!
So no, it wasn’t all pretty, the Raptors were behind for chunks of the first and third quarter (of course) while the Bulls put the scare into them. But a strong fourth quarter run did the job, and the Raptors got a road win in Chicago.