Chicago’s offense and defense disappear in fourth quarter loss to Toronto

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 03: Jakob Poeltl
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 03: Jakob Poeltl /

The Chicago Bulls played host to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, hoping to stop a two-game skid.

The Chicago Bulls lost their third consecutive game Wednesday night, returning to their tanking ways. Wednesday’s loss came against the Toronto Raptors, winners of three in a row.

The loss drops the Bulls to 13-25 for the season and firmly back in the bottom tier of the NBA. It’ll be interesting to see what affect Zach LaVine‘s return has on Chicago, which is coming soon.

First Quarter

The Chicago Bulls opened the game as they tend to, playing through Robin Lopez. RoLo scored six of the Bulls first eight points. Four of those were courtesy of the Kris Dunn-RoLo PnR, which has become a weapon for Chicago.

It was Lauri Markkanen’s turn to power the Bulls after Lopez. Lauri got Kyle Lowry on a post up on the left block and scored an easy two, then got Lowry switched onto him again underneath the basket. Lopez found him with a nice, lofty pass for another easy layup.

Lauri Bird also splashed a three at the end of the shot clock with 4:18 left in the quarter and finished the quarter with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

Chicago’s starters straight up outplayed Toronto’s starters, forcing DeMar DeRozan into a 1-of-7 shooting performance and taking a ten point lead into the second quarter.

End of 1Q: Chicago 31 – Toronto 21

Second Quarter

It would be the Raptors bench that injected the team with life, especially Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet. VanVleet torched Jerian Grant for some easy layups and scored all nine of his points in the second quarter.

The story of the second quarter was Wright, however. He was seemingly everywhere, finishing the half with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting and 2-for-3 from behind the arc. He was aggressive attacking the basket and put Nikola Mirotic in a blender.

Bulls bench struggled to score and defend, blowing the lead the starters gave them. A nice run in the last three minutes of the quarter gave Chicago a three point lead going into halftime.

Halftime: Chicago 59 – Toronto 56

Third Quarter

Raptors and Bulls went back and forth in the third quarter, but DeMar DeRozan started to get going. After struggling in the first half, he scored 18 points in the third in a variety of ways.

He hit two 3-pointers, one as trailer in transition that gave Toronto an 83-82 lead. He got to the free throw line, converting all six free throws he attempted.

DeRozan was aggressive going to the basket and simply put, the Bulls had no answer for him. The defense in the second half was putrid.

Markkanen scored seven in the third and shot one over Serge Ibaka that just about reached the rafters before it splashed through.

Markkanen also showed off his handles, grabbing a defensive rebound and going coast-to-coast.

End 3Q: Chicago 90 – Toronto 90

Fourth Quarter

Chicago’s offense and defense completely fell apart in the fourth quarter. Wright and DeRozan continued their destruction of the Bulls, combining for 16 points in the final frame.

Wright finished with a career-high 25 points to go with 13 rebounds, five assists and four steals. He was an absolute menace and finished with a game high +28. DeRozan wrapped up his night with 35 points and six assists on 5-for-8 shooting from three.

Chicago chucked up many a contested shot in the fourth quarter and Dunn had a few ugly turnovers.

Some hot shooting from Niko and Justin Holiday in garbage time made the score look closer than it actually was.

Final score: Chicago 115 – Toronto 124

Some observations:

Lauri’s ballhandling is way better than I could have ever imagined. That coast to coast take was nice and he pretty much always seems comfortable handling the ball.

Grant had some nice drives to the basket tonight. It’s always good to see him play aggressively instead of settling for mid-range stepbacks.

Bobby Portis really struggled tonight. He tried to bully Jakob Poeltl but blew some point-blank layups.