The Bulls (30-40) entered the night with their fragile postseason aspirations hanging by a thread. Having the tiebreaker over Washington, the scenario is simple: win out and hope the Wizards lose their final two games. Easier said than done, considering Chicago ends the season with matchups against Brooklyn and Milwaukee while the Wizards play Cleveland on Friday night.
The extremely shorthanded Raptors (27-43), whose seven-year playoff run will end this season, arrived in Chicago on a four-game losing streak. They played without seven of their regulars including Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, and Pascal Siakam.
Nikola Vucevic has played in 27 games for the Bulls since being acquired from Orlando at the trade deadline but tonight was only the 15th time he’s been on the court together with Zach LaVine. Chicago is 5-7 with one of their two All-Stars out of the lineup.
Vucevic (16/16/6) and Zach LaVine (24/5/2) led the way for the Bulls tonight as the team had six players finish with double figures. Tonight marked Vucevic’s 47th double-double and he also became the first Bull to make 200 three-pointers in a season. Chicago was able to outmuscle their opponent on the boards 58-41 while shooting 54% from the field and 47% from behind the arc. For Toronto, Stanley Johnson had a career-high 35 points, ten rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
With tonight’s victory, Chicago swept the season series against the Raptors and have now won four of their last five games. Tomorrow, the Bulls and their fans will be scoreboard watching as Washington tries to lock down the final play-in spot with a win over the Cavaliers.
Facing what basically amounts to a G-League team, the Bulls played down to their competition early as Toronto went on a 9-2 run to start the game. However, the home team quickly righted the ship behind an aggressive Vucevic who finished the quarter with 10/4/2. The home team spread the ball around nicely, converting 12 baskets on ten assists while shooting 57% from the field and 56% from downtown.
Coby White (12/2/4) and Lauri Markkanen (12/3/1) took charge in the second quarter as the Bulls went on a 12-4 run to open the frame. Javonte Green continued his stellar play off the bench, chipping in with eight points, one block, and one steal. The highlight of the first half was an emphatic dunk by White on the fast break, as the Bulls took complete control of the game, going into halftime with a 19-point lead.
Those Pesky Raptors
The Bulls quickly jumped out to a 24-point lead, their largest of the game, after Patrick Williams opened the second half with five straight points. But the Raptors showed some spunk, going on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 14. Toronto simply refused to go away, increasing their defensive effort and forcing the Bulls into eight turnovers. The visitors ended the third quarter on a 14-4 run and were down by only 12 heading into the fourth.
Even with the shift in momentum, coach Donovan elected to keep LaVine and Vucevic on the bench and, by the halfway mark, the Raptors actually had the Bulls’ lead down to single digits. Fortunately, LaVine decided to take over took over down the stretch, keeping Toronto at an arm’s length as Chicago would ultimately win by a final of 114-102.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls (30-40) hit the road to square off against Brooklyn (46-24) on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score. As always, you can check out the latest Bulls content, articles, podcasts, and more at Bulls On Tap.