Toronto Raptors run away to a 122-83 win over the shell-shocked Chicago Bulls
The Raptors dismantled a reeling Bulls team by 39 points on Saturday evening. Fred VanVleet led with 18, while Danny Green and Serge Ibaka chipped in with 17 and 16 respectively.
The story coming into the game was the short-handed roster that the Toronto Raptors trotted out. Four of the team’s most important wings were on the bench due to injury. Pascal Siakam was expected to handle a sizable chunk of the offensive load after posting 17.8 points per game over his last ten games.
In addition to Siakam’s steady hand around the basket and on the break, fans were hoping to see a classic Fred VanVleet performance in his first career start. Overall, the third year guard had failed to impress early this season after inking a two-year, $18m deal in the off-season.
It was fitting, then, that two of the Raptors first three baskets after the tip came from these fellas.
VanVleet, who off the bench this season has looked apprehensive at best when handling the ball, was keen on making decisive plays with the ball. Siakam and VanVleet combined for nine of the Raptors’ first 14 points. Fred Hoiberg called the first timeout of the game with his Bulls down seven.
The Bulls wouldn’t go away just yet. After the timeout, they managed a 7-0 run of their own to get back in the game. Helped in part by a couple of ugly turnovers. From — who else — Serge Ibaka. Ibaka had a rough start to the game, getting the hook for Jonas Valanciunas around the three-minute mark. This after posting three turnovers and just two points on 1-of-5 shooting to go along with two blocks.
It’s tough to speculate what got VanVleet going tonight. Whether it was playing next to Kyle Lowry or playing in front of his “hometown” crowd; it worked as he scored ten first quarter points. The Raptors jumped to a 27-18 lead.
The second quarter featured a lineup we all hope not to see this early in future games. Lorenzo Brown, Delon Wright, Danny Green, Malachi Richardson and Jonas Valanciunas shared the floor. Things got ugly. While the Raptors didn’t initially lose ground on the scoreboard, the bench offense once again became a disjointed mess. Wright and Richardson forced entry passes, overthrew teammates on the fast break, and in general failed to take care of the ball.
Once the third quarter began, the Raptors made a clear effort to score close to the basket. The Raptors then scored 34 points in the third quarter to blow away the Bulls. Chicago could only respond with 18 points. Behind this concerted effort, the Raptors began to throttle the Bulls, going on an immediate 9-0 run to open the third quarter.
A lot of fans will agree, this is the best the offense has looked in at least two weeks. The ball movement was nothing short of divine, as the Raptors’ ball handlers were able to find an open teammate on what felt like every possession. Driven in large part by the passes in rhythm and unselfish basketball. The Raptors would keep the lead above 20 points for most of the third, before finally peaking with an 89-56 lead after three — and that was pretty much the ball game.
The Raptors have a few days to rest before facing off against Orlando Magic on Tuesday evening.