After overcoming a 16-point lead, four threes from career 30 percent three-point shooter Rajon Rondo, and 37 points from Jimmy Butler, the Toronto Raptors beat the Chicago Bulls tonight. It took them 122 points and five minutes of overtime to do so, but for the first time in 12 matchups, the Raptors won.
Most one-sided streaks like this in the NBA are the product of a good team beating up on a bad team. As you’d expect, the Spurs have put together several long winning streaks and the Sixers have lost a ton of games in a row to good teams. However, the Raptors and Bulls have both been good over the past four seasons, and if anything, the Raptors have been better. Losing 11 straight games to a slightly worse opponent is strange, and it got to the point that Bulls and Raptors players have recognized that it had become a Thing.
As Jimmy Butler said before the game, “I think we just catch them on off nights.” Tonight was an off night for the Raptors, right up until Serge Ibaka and Robin Lopez started throwing punches at each other. At that point, they were down by 16 points and Ibaka had been a more valuable player than Lopez.
It remained close until 6:39 left in the fourth quarter, when the Bulls scored what would be their last points before a five-minute scoreless drought. Newly acquired wing defender P.J. Tucker was tremendous, and DeMar DeRozan came alive. DeRozan ended with 42 points, and he also came up with a huge block down the stretch
The Raptors ended the game on a 50-32 run after the ejections, but they almost gave it away in regulation. Jimmy Butler was tremendous in the fourth quarter tonight, and he clawed back a four-point lead for the Bulls with a minute left with a big layup.
The two star shooting guards swapped missed shots at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, where the Raptors finally ended things despite not having a lead in the game until the final 90 seconds. The win was not as buck wild as their victory over the 1996 Jordan Bulls, but finally beating the dysfunctional Bulls right before the playoffs has to feel good.