Just when you thought the Darko Rajakovic era was off to a good start, reality pulled us back to remind us that this is still the same Toronto Raptors team. Despite the new coach and system, the Raptors traditionally choked the game away not once but twice in this game, losing a heartbreaker to the Chicago Bulls, 104-103.
It was a game of runs throughout the game, with the Raptors looking like they were about to run away with an 88-71 lead with less than five minutes left, but DeMar DeRozan was having none of it, carrying the Bulls to a 22-5 run to force overtime. Chris Boucher came up big in OT and gave the Raptors a 103-99 lead with 39 seconds remaining, but they managed to choke the game away which ended in an Alex Caruso corner trifecta.
"TURN UP THE AC. IT'S COLD IN HERE."— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 28, 2023
Stacey King calls Alex Caruso's game-winning three-pointer, giving the Bulls an absolutely crazy 104-103 overtime win against the Raptors.pic.twitter.com/fAQfmQxm6o
Scottie Barnes led the Raptors with his first triple-double of the season, putting up 22 points, 10 boards, and 10 dimes. However, he had a game-high seven turnovers, including one in regulation that could have sealed the game. Pascal Siakam added 18 points, eight boards, and two assists but was clearly gassed out since the fourth period and was erratic at best. Gary Trent Jr. started slow but got his rhythm back, chipping in 16 points and two steals. Chris Boucher made his first appearance in the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing six boards.
DeRozan led all scorers with 33 points, and despite being a disappointing closer for the Raptors for years in the postseason, showed the Raptors the difference of having a closer on the team. Coby White chucked his way to 17 points, six boards, and eight dimes, while Zach Lavine struggled with just eight points, but had a key dunk and the game-winning assist to Caruso.
Both teams struggled from the perimeter the entire game, combining for 17-for-75 from behind the arc. The Raptors erased a 19-point lead, while the Bulls came back and erased a 17-point lead. The game essentially came down to Bulls coach Billy Donovan out-coaching Rajakovic and DeRozan, showing the Raptors what a closer should be down the stretch.
The Raptors started strong with a 10-0 run, locking up the Bulls defensively. However, the Bulls turned things around once the Raptors’ bench came in, going on a 20-0 run, holding the Raptors scoreless over the last 5:27 of the quarter. It took Anunoby’s dunk at the buzzer to break the streak. Gheez, the Scottie+bench lineup was bad.
Raptors bench subbed in with 6:34 left in the quarter. They scored zero points the rest of the quarter with the Raps only points coming from an OG dunk at the buzzer.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) October 28, 2023
Raptors went 6:13 before Anunoby's dunk at the end of the Q. https://t.co/fMw34JAKJE
Anunoby opened the second quarter with a three-pointer, and Jakob Poeltl Eurostepped on Drummond. From there, the Bulls outscored the Raps 18-5 to build a 17-point lead. Rajakovic finally looked at Siakam’s way, and that started a 10-0 run to close the half, cutting the lead to 35-42 at the half.
The Raptors started off strong to start the second half, targeting Coby White, causing the Bulls to collapse. It allowed the Raptors to go on a 7-0 run to take a 43-42 lead that made coach Donovan call for a timeout in between Schroder’s free throws. Playing mismatch basketball, the Raptors built a 56-47 lead, but the Bulls slowly chipped the lead away before Precious Achiuwa’s 5-0 run closed out the third period, giving the Raptors a 68-65 lead.
Coach Rajakovic started the fourth with a funky lineup of Barnes-Trent Jr.-McDaniels-Boucher-Achiuwa. However, Barnes took over, leading his unit to an 11-4 run to give them a 79-71 lead. Anunoby came in but limped back to the locker room after a few possessions. Barnes found Trent Jr. again for a trifecta. Siakam hunted DeRozan down the block the next possession to give him a dose of his turnaround fadeaway jumper, giving the Raptors a commanding 85-71 lead and another Bulls timeout midway through the quarter.
DeRozan was very animated during the timeout, and he was on a mission, and with some help from Caruso, they cut the Raptors’ lead to 88-82 with 2:42 remaining. Trent Jr. bricked a top of the key trifecta, but the Bulls failed to take advantage, bricking back-to-back threes and sending Barnes to the stripes.
Barnes split his freebies to give the Raptors a seven-point lead, while DeRozan’s reverse layup was answered by Barnes’ hook shot. DeRozan managed to get to the line, cutting the lead to five with less than 90 seconds to go. Barnes’ tough turnaround middy on Caruso bricked, but White missed his three-point attempt. Siakam and Achiuwa PnP, but Achiuwa’s shot was short. Bulls quick transition with DeRozan’s fishing expedition, getting to the line and Achiuwa’s sixth foul and cut the Raptors’ lead to 91-88 with 20 seconds left.
Bulls prevented the Raptors from getting the ball inbounds, prompting coach Rajakovic to burn their last timeout. What the hell was that play they drew up. A comedy of errors between Barnes and Schroder ended up in a wild sequence, leading to DeRozan getting an and-1. He misses the freebie, and the Raptors hold on to a 1-point lead, another wild rebound sequence; DeRozan’s putback was short, and Boucher grabbed the board, but the play was halted for a possible goaltend suspicion on Barnes.
After the review, there was no goaltending on Barnes, and the ball is back with the Raptors holding a 1-point lead with nine seconds left. Schroder barely managed to get the ball to Siakam, who was sent to the stripes. Siakam made both freebies to give the Raptors a three-point lead with eight seconds remaining.
Bulls called for a timeout and drew a play for DeRozan, who successfully baited Boucher for three free throws. DeRozan made the first two but missed the last one and committed a lane violation. However, Caruso forced an offensive foul on Siakam with his flop, and DeRozan, again, managed to bait the Raptors for another trip to the free-throw line. DeRozan splits his freebies, and we go to an unnecessary extra period.
There’s clutch basketball, and then there’s the end of the fourth quarter of Raptors vs. Bulls pic.twitter.com/rtLAhYT2tM— No Dunks (@NoDunksInc) October 28, 2023
Vucevic opened the OT, making his freebies, but Schroder drained a trifecta to give them back the lead. Caruso found a streaking Lavine for a dunk to get the lead back, and the Bulls sent Siakam to the stripes but missed both freebies. DeRozan, smelling blood, got a layup over Barnes, who returned with a trifecta to tie the game. Barnes missed his layup, but Boucher snagged the offensive board and got sent to the line, who calmly made both freebies.
White bricked another three, and Schroder got deep in the paint and found Boucher around the basket for a layup, giving the Raptors a 103-99 lead with 40 seconds remaining. Bulls call for time, and DeRozan sliced to the basket for a layup. Siakam got stripped on the way to the basket, and Lavine drove to the basket and kicked to Caruso for a corner three, who calmly sank the trifecta to give the Bulls a 104-103 lead with two seconds remaining.
The Raptors called for time, but Siakam could not get a shot off on time.
Gheez. Every Raptor should have a tattoo this season that says “DeMar Derozan will pump fake.”