13 April, 2023
TORONTO (AP) (AP) The Chicago Bulls upset the Toronto Raptors 109-105 in a play-in game on Wednesday night, led by Zach LaVine’s 39 points and DeMar DeRozan’s 23 points against his former club.
The Bulls were down 66-47 going into the final frame, but Zach LaVine led a comeback that was fueled by 14 points and 13 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic. He had 17 points in the third quarter as the Bulls trimmed the deficit to nine, and added 13 more in the fourth as Chicago won.LaVine, according to Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, was “phenomenal” in their loss to the Raptors.
What he did was incredible, Donovan remarked. What it did was give us hope and vitality.
The Bulls have a chance to secure the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and avoid a first-round meeting with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks when they travel to take on the Heat on Friday night.
This season, Chicago swept Miami with a score of 3-0. The Bulls swept both games in Miami, including the season opener.
They’ll be making some changes. LaVine said, “We’re into it, too.” Whoever wants it more is going to have it. That, I believe, is the crux of the matter.
Chicago only hit three of their first nine 3-point attempts in the first three quarters, but LaVine scored twice as the Bulls went 4-for-7 in the final frame.
Toronto’s season came to a disappointing close despite the efforts of Fred VanVleet (26 points, 12 rebounds) and Pascal Siakam (32 points), as the Raptors shot an abysmal 18 of 36 from the free throw line (with DeRozan’s nine-year-old daughter, Diar, wailing as they shot). In the final frame, Toronto was unable to convert on six of their free throw attempts.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse remarked, “I thought we played well enough to win today, but it just didn’t go our way.”
For the Raptors, Scottie Barnes scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while O.G. Anunoby added 13 points. In a season where they had trouble building momentum, Toronto didn’t win three in a row until January and never won more than four in a row.
It’s going to be up to us to be better,” Siakam added. Not reliable enough; that has to improve.
With 7:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, Chicago’s Alex Caruso made a 3-pointer from the wing to knot the game at 91, and with 5:07 remaining, Patrick Beverley hit a 3-pointer to give the Bulls a 96-93 lead. Beverley scored for the first time of the game.
With 3:11 remaining, VanVleet hit a 3-pointer to even the score at 100, but LaVine and DeRozan scored for the Bulls to regain the lead.
In the last two minutes, Barnes and Siakam each sank one of two free throws, but VanVleet missed a 3-pointer that would have knotted the game.
With 19 seconds left, Siakam scored on a driving slam to bring the score to 105-104. LaVine extended the margin to three points after the break thanks to a pair of free throws. The Raptors’ All-Star missed his next two 3-point tries after Caruso fouled him.
The Raptors had a 28-23 lead after the first quarter and a 58-47 advantage into halftime after VanVleet made a halfcourt shot.
LaVine and the Bulls were behind 81-72 after a 3-pointer by VanVleet with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter.
DeRozan’s daughter, after convincing him to let her miss a day of work, sat courtside, right next to the Chicago bench.
DeRozan said, “I just saw it,” referring to the moment he witnessed Diar’s cries for help. The “She Went Viral” phrase.
In the first half, Toronto’s free throw percentage was.8 (14 for 28).
Diar will miss Friday’s game against the Heat because, according to DeRozan, he has sent her back to school.
Charles Oakley, a former NBA All-Star who starred for both the Bulls and the Raptors, watched the game from a courtside seat. Oakley sported a black hoodie with gold lettering reading “Toronto Raptors.”