The Chicago Bulls began one of their busiest stretches of the season with a tough loss against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, falling 127-120 in overtime.
The Raptors led for most of the game as they captured the lead midway through the first quarter. But after being down by as many as 11 points in the second half, the Bulls battled back and took the lead on one of the wildest plays of the season.
With the score tied in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, DeMar DeRozan (28 points) passed the ball to Javonte Green (13 points, six rebounds), who was open on the baseline and caught the pass in mid-air.
With the shot clock winding down, many, including Zach LaVine (15 points), thought Green would shoot the ball. He instead passed it to LaVine, who did not see the pass.
The ball then deflected off LaVine’s back and fell into the hands of Nikola Vucevic, who quickly tossed the ball into the net as the shot clock expired.
The play should have been the exclamation point on a wonderful Bulls comeback with Nikola Vucevic, who was the best player for the Bulls, at the center of it all.
Instead, the Raptors got one of their 22 offensive rebounds in the form of a Scottie Barnes (19 points) putback with less than a second left. The bucket sent the game to overtime, where the Raptors eventually came out on top.
Vucevic Shines, LaVine Not 100%
Off the back of his second All-Star Game selection, Zach LaVine struggled for most of the game, finally picking up the pace when it mattered most in the fourth quarter. LaVine scored 10 of his 15 points in the final 12 minutes of play, helping the Bulls force overtime.
However, he certainly did not look 100% his normal self. The Bulls star admitted to playing the last two games with back spasms saying, “It hurts.”
Nikola Vucevic picked up the slack as he had arguably his best game this season. He led the Bulls in scoring with 30 points and also hauled in 18 rebounds. In fact, Vucevic had a double-double after the first half alone.
Vucevic shot 13-21 from the field (62%). It was the sixth time in the last nine games he has shot 50% or better from the field.
The Bulls now enter one of the team’s busiest stretches of the season. This game in Toronto was the first of an all-road, back-to-back game sequence, already the third since the beginning of 2022.
This contest was also the team’s first of a seven-game stretch set to occur within a 10-day timeframe.
With the Heat, Sixers, and others gaining momentum in the Eastern Conference, this slate of games will be important to the Bulls’ pursuit of first place in the East.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls (32-19) remain on the road as they head to Indiana to take on the Pacers (19-34) Friday night. Tip-off is at 6 PM CST and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.
Be sure to check out the Bulls On Tap podcast for further postgame reaction as well as Chicago basketball analysis and commentary all season.
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