Luol Plays Hero as Bulls Steal One From Raptors At Home

What a thriller! Bulls continue to find ways to win ball games. How many times have I written that in the last couple of weeks? Same narrative. Bulls look like they are about to go down, someone steps up out of nowhere to make the game winning plays necessary to win the contest.

Last night proved no different vs. the Raptors. I knew Toronto would be riding high after ROUTING the New York Knicks on their home floor the night before. I also knew that the Bulls might be a little overconfident after beating this team on Wednesday. The two days off might also be an issue.

They played a lackluster game, but before we jump on the Bulls too badly, the Raptors made contested shots. Some of the looks were good, but this team shoots well against the Bulls for some reason. They shot 45% although it felt like they were making the shots at an even higher clip. Toronto is a team that you need to create distance from early, because they have shot makers and will kill you in a close contest. It took an MVP performance from Derrick to beat them at the United Center last year.

DeRozan was out with that ankle roll from the Knicks game, so that cut one player that the Bulls needed to worry about, but Calderon and Johnson came to play and seemed to make shot after shot. What’s astonishing about the box score is that the Bulls did not have as many turnovers as they usually have and they had three times the number of steals that the Raptors had. How on earth did we not convert more of those steals to buckets?

NOTABLES:

  • Bulls shot 13% from three, but C.J. made two HUGE shots from the arc in the 4th. He scored 13 of his 23 in the 4th quarter.
  • James Johnson played well against his old squad, but still makes questionable shots. Including a botched layup in the 4th.
  • Lu is struggling badly from three, and the slashing/cutting portion of his game that was so deadly before is only done sparingly now. We can still trust Lu to make game winning plays though.
  • Boozer, Deng and Watson gutted this one out. Not the best shooting night for Lu or CJ, but they dropped in 24, 23 and 23 respectively.
  • This was the Bulls first OT game of the season. The Raptor’s third (2-1).
  • The Bulls continue to protect home court. They are 20-4 and trail only the Heat and Lakers.
  • This win clinches a playoff spot for the Bulls. The first team to do so.
  • Bulls have played a league high 50 games, are 40-10 and are on a 4 game winning streak.

SIDELINE SKINNY:

  • Joakim Noah got ejected in the first half for arguing a call and tossing the ball towards the ref, and just being frustrated in general. He seemed pissed off when introduced and didn’t have the same intensity he usually does. Lets hope he doesn’t get suspended like Rondo did, although Rondo hit the ref with the ball. Not sure if Noah’s ball made contact.
  • While the rest of the team celebrated Lu’s tip-in, Derrick looked worried on the sideline as he gazed up at the monitor for the replay

The officials spent an agonizing few minutes watching the replay of Deng's final shot. Appears he JUST got it off in time.

QUOTABLES:

  • “…We’re lucky we had enough time to get the rebound. When it left my hand it felt good because I saw the light after it left my hand. But then again, you never really know. We waited until they made the decision.” – Luol Deng
  • “…The ball happened to fall short after I blocked it and Luol Deng made a great play. We deserved to win tonight, but they made the game-winning play.” – James Johnson
  • “…We got lucky. I thought we were dominated. The disappointing thing is that it is two games in a row.” – Tom Thibodeau

Next up for the Bulls: Denver Nuggets, Monday, March 26th. 7:00 CST – CSN, NBATV and ESPN 1000

I’ll be in-game tweeting from @ChiTwnBullsBlog

We are entering the stretch run! 16 games left guys, LET’S GO!!!!

–ct

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