A Heroic Comeback, Diar Breaks the Internet, Thanks for Missing Free Throws, and Other Bulls Bullets
I had 700 words done.
When the Chicago Bulls walked into halftime down 58-47, I thought I might as well prepare the coffin. While I knew this team was more than capable of pulling a second-half comeback out of their butt, I also knew they were more than capable of losing that game by 20+. I just didn’t know what version of the Bulls we’d get when they came back out onto the court.
Fortunately, we got the calm, collected, and confident version that has been toying without optimism since the All-Star break. Will that team stick around for Friday night or will I be publishing those words?
- Let me preface these bullets with the following: Yes, I know we’re talking about a battle for nothing more than the 8 seed. This season should already be chalked up as a significant disappointment. But the fact of the matter is the Bulls have been comfortably above .500 since the end of February. If staying competitive and making it through the Play-In Tournament was the new goal this front office set (and it was), I have to tip my hat to them for accomplishing that.
- Growth happens at different rates. Might it be too little too late for this version of the Bulls? Absolutely. However, I’m still going to enjoy whatever signs of growth we happen to get. And last night was a pretty big fat sign. Instead of playing the “woe is me” card and faltering on a big stage, once again, the Bulls kept their head held high. Even as the Raptors hit contested 3s and came away with their normal back-breaking offensive rebounds, the Bulls didn’t show signs of fear. The group ramped up their physicality and stuck to the game plan their head coach gave them. Lots of clapping. Lots of high fives. Lots of motivation.
“We were fine,” DeRozan said of the team’s early struggles. “Nobody kind of panicked. We just knew what we had to do. We put ourselves in a hole, but we understood what we had to do to get out.”
- Arguably the best part of the team’s 19-point comeback was the fact that max man Zach LaVine led the way. He put his head down and drove right into the teeth of the Raptors’ defense on repeat. The entire team seemed to feed off his level of aggressiveness and energy, including co-star DeMar DeRozan.
- I loved the way that DeRozan adjusted to last night’s game offensively. Few teams have been as successful at limiting his mid-range jumpers this season, so the six-time All-Star didn’t even bother hunting that spot on the court. Instead, we watched him bulldoze through the defense and get to the rim. Six of his nine shots in the second half came within 6ft of the basket. Overall, he went 7/9 on his looks at the rim. DeRozan’s 23 points on 10-19 shooting made for easily his best performance against the Raptors this season.
- Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend the Bulls strictly stole that game from the Raptors. While a 19-point comeback deserves plenty of flowers, Toronto helped Chicago out tremendously with their historically poor performance at the free-throw line. The Raptors missed 18 FTAs and finished the night 50 percent at the charity stripe. How bad is that? Well, it was the most missed free throws by the Raptors since 1997 and only the 11th time we’ve seen a time shoot that poorly on that many attempts since 2003. CHGO’s Will Gottlieb shared the chart:
- I’m not trying to rub it in, but that’s a choke job I’d never forget if I was a Raptors fan. I’d probably twitch each time my team went to the free throw for at least the next five seasons.
- Of course, that terrible free-throw shooting performance wouldn’t have been possible without the blood-curdling scream of Diar DeRozan. In case you somehow missed it, DeRozan’s daughter was screeching at the top of her lungs every time Toronto went to the line. You can see the video here.
- Diar is now an internet sensation. Here’s the proof …
- Even LaVine knew who the real MVP of the game was!
- Both Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams deserve a genuine shoutout for their defensive effort last night. Caruso finished the night with 3 steals and 3 blocks. Two of those steals came in the Bulls’ valiant 4th quarter. As for Williams, while his box score may not catch the eye in the way Caruso’s does, his physicality was a difference-maker down the stretch. Whether it be walling off Jakob Poeltl from the paint and forcing him into a turnover or staying locked into Scottie Barnes along the perimeter, thus causing a bad pass to Fred Vanvleet, Williams was an important part of setting the tone defensively for the Bulls.
- This video made my heart so happy!
- Cool … but we all know how badly you wanted to beat them!
- The Oklahoma City Thunder ended the New Orleans Pelicans’ season in the other 9v10 Play-In game last night. I still can’t believe how young that roster is …
- I knew he was No. 1 on my draft night wish list for a reason!
- Worlds collide!
- Great stuff here from Tab!