Just one game after the Chicago Bulls got Joakim Noah back in the lineup, he was back on the injured list after experiencing more problems with plantar fasciitis. Richard Hamilton, however, finally returned to the lineup after missing over a month due to back spasms in the Bulls’ 98-101 loss.
The first quarter was an awfully horrible for the Bulls, who started ice cold on the offensive end. While the Raptors kept draining shots, the Bulls began on a 3-11 run before Coach Tom Thibodeau finally took a timeout. But even after that, Chicago still failed to produce any offense. The table seemed to turn a bit once Malcolm Thomas checked in for the Bulls. Following that, Jimmy Butler and Marco Belinelli found the bottom of the net; but as the end of the quarter came, Chicago dug themselves into too big of a hole, trailing 22-31.
Going into the second quarter, the Bulls were able to continue their offense and tightened up their defense, continually fighting against Raptors’ lead. Eventually, Toronto found themselves stuck at 47 points for over three minutes as Chicago cut down the deficit. By the time halftime rolled around, the Bulls only trailed by four, 50-54.
In the third quarter, another offensive drought plagued the Bulls as the Raptors were able to defend well and respond on the offensive end. Malcolm Thomas ended Toronto’s 12-0 run after making two-straight layups. Butler followed Thomas’s four points with four of his own off of a three and a free throw. But that alone was not enough to prevent the 68-81 score at the quarter’s end.
Chicago was able to fight back though. Butler played stifling defense on Toronto’s Rudy Gay to help achieve the defensive stops necessary to make a run. Nate Robinson made three threes late in the game to cut the Raptors’s persistent lead back to four. Carlos Boozer followed with a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to two. What ended the game though was a jump ball call after the referees were unable to decide who the ball went off of following a missed free throw from Robinson, despite not appearing to ever go out-of-bounds.
Toronto won the jump ball, but it turned into a loose ball. Boozer grabbed a hold of it while on the ground and passed it out to Robinson at the top of the key, who then resorted to throwing it down the middle of the court, only to have it return to him after hitting a Raptor. Robinson then hurled up a three from halfcourt and missed.
Butler had a great night for the Bulls scoring a career-high 28 points (10-12 FG, 3-3 3PT, 5-6 FT) to go along with his 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Oh, and not to mention he played all 48 minutes of the game. It is just unfortunate that Chicago was unable to capture the win.
Thursday marks the next game for the Bulls, now 42-35, as they look to end the New York Knicks’ 13-game winning streak at 7 PM CT.