Boasting one of the NBA's most difficult schedules to date, the Chicago Bulls surely reveled in the chance to beat up on some lesser competition for a change. After recent wins over the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers, their next chance to pile some more wins to their record would come against the rapidly deflating Toronto Raptors last night.
After trading Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby away to the Pacers and Knicks, respectively, the Raptors should have been an easy target to pick up a much-needed win. After all, there's not much in the way of All-Star talent remaining on this roster outside of Scottie Barnes.
As if losing those two key contributors wasn't bad enough for the Raptors, they'd also be without starting center Jakob Poeltl and the two quality players they received from New York in return for Anunoby: R.J. Barrett and Immanuel Quickley.
And yet, it was all for naught. The Bulls would fail to defend their home court and dropped last night's contest 107-118 to the visiting Raptors. Considering Toronto was on a six-game losing streak and had only won 1 of their last 11 games, this loss was particularly difficult to stomach.
The Bulls may have just blown their chance to get back in the playoff picture before the All-Star Break.
Of course, Chicago was dealing with their own litany of injuries and absences. Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, and Torrey Craig have been important starters for the Bulls this season, and it looks like all three players will remain sidelined at least until after the All-Star break concludes.
To make matters worse, Chicago's trend of losing key pieces to the rotation continued as Dalen Terry suffered an unfortunate fall in the third quarter. Terry appeared to have injured his ankle and would end up needing assistance to the locker room. Dalen would not return for the remainder of the game.
It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Bulls, however, as Ayo Dosunmu continued to play spectacularly in the absence of Patrick Williams. Bumped up into the starting lineup, Dosunmu dropped 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists while shooting an extremely efficient 8-for-11 from the field. Alex Caruso also made his presence felt, posting a +7 plus/minus in the 33 minutes he played — meaning Chicago got outscored by 18 points in the 15 minutes he rested.
Unfortunately, Ayo and Caruso's tremendous effort wasn't enough to bring home the win last night. The Bulls now fall to 22-26 on the season and still have a long way to go if they want to finally climb back to a .500 winning percentage. Their next chance to pick up a win will be on the road against the dysfunctional Hornets, before Chicago hosts two quality teams with the Kings and Timberwolves to kick off February.