Mar 24, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng (9) scores the game winning basket at the buzzer during overtime against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center. The Bulls beat the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Bulls Inch Past Raptors 102-101, Clinch Playoff Spot

Bulls 102, Raptors 101 — FINAL

Carlos Boozer dropped 24 and rebounded 10 to help boost the Bulls to a 102-101 win and a playoff berth. (Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE)

There are nail biters and there is Saturday night’s March Madness-esque game in Chicago. For a team with 40 wins playing without Derrick Rose, the game literally couldn’t have come down to the wire anymore so then it did. With less then half a second left, Luol Deng tipped in the game winning rebound that gave the Bulls a 102-101 win over Toronto, their second game in a row against the Raptors.

The win was quickly overshadowed in the minds of Bulls fans as the 40th win of the season was a playoff clincher for Chicago. They’re the first team in and want to be the last team out.

But after the nail biter in Chicago, it’s clear that work still needs to be done, and players need to get healthy.

“We hung in but the disappointing thing is that it’s two games in a row,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We found a way to win. … Very fortunate. We were lucky to get that game. They outplayed us from the start. They dominated us. They outrebounded us by 14.”

The Bulls winning percentage now moves in to the eighty percent range thanks in no part to a game they shot under forty.

Luol Deng was the hero of the day in more then one way. Not only did he tip in the game winner at the last possible second, but he played nearly every single minute of the game. Deng clocked 50 minutes in the win, proving that he can indeed carry this team without Rose.

The ability of Deng to carry this team was amplified with Joakim Noah getting ejected before halftime for two technical fouls. Noah got his first for arguing a call, then picked up his second after throwing a ball in the direction of an official which is a nice way of saying Noah lost his cool.

“We are short-handed already. We can’t have that,” Thibodeau said.

The Bulls trailed the entire game, tying it in the fourth quarter behind, at that point, Deng’s 19 and Carlos Boozer’s 20. Both would go on to score four apiece in overtime to finish with 23 and 24 respectively.

The Bulls had to play without Joakim Noah who was ejected in the first half. (Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE)

However, the Bulls were greatly aided by Gary Forbes missing two free throws with 0:06 left to go. Had even just one of those fell in, the Bulls would have needed a three and either they would have lost, or the finish would have been even more miraculous.

Besides Deng and Boozer caching the twenties in points, C.J. Watson also finished with 23 with mild contributions coming from Taj Gibson’s 6 rebounds and Omer Asik’s 10 points. The Bulls also got major help in the win in the form of both Jerryd Bayless and DeMar DeRozan sitting out the game which easily eradicated at least 10 points for the Raptors.
A win is a win however, and this particular one clinches a playoff berth for the Bulls, the first team to punch a ticket. The grind isn’t over though, as Chicago is still vying hard for the top seed in the East. The only real threat at the moment is the Miami Heat who sit 3 games behind the Bulls with 16 games left for Chicago.
Chicago can begin to close the gap as they close out March. The month ends with the Bulls getting the Nuggets on Monday before traveling to Atlanta for a one game road trip and then returning to the United Center for a matchup with the Pistons.






Vs. Nuggets




@ Hawks




 Vs. Pistons



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