The Raptors took a brief lead early connecting on five of their first six shots. My wife turned to me and said "I thought you told me this would be a blowout". I offered her the Raptors and 10 points.
That was about all the good news for Raptor fans, who can take some solace in Andrea Bargnani returning to the game and playing well perhaps, but otherwise had a whole bunch of nothing.
Surprisingly, it was the Bulls bench which really helped them pull away in this game rather than the starters.
Derrick Rose did his damage in the first half
The Bulls earned Derrick plenty of rest tonight, as he never returned in the fourth quarter and did most of his damage in the first half. As I've noted many times, Rose tends to be more quiet in blowout wins. He was an extremely efficient 7/11 from the field with 19 points and six assists but gave fans a memorable highlight reel lay up slicing through three defenders and finishing with circus style shot.
Rose pretty much had whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.
Carlos Boozer played sparingly and played defense even more sparingly
The Bulls didn't really need Boozer on offense tonight, but he seemed to have a hard time generating much and scored several of his hoops on open layins after the defense hard committed to Derrick Rose.
Watching Boozer off the roll towards the hoop makes me realize how much more fun this offense will be with Joakim Noah in to help play that role rather than Kurt Thomas, and the different looks the Bulls will give teams.
Boozer struggled to defend Bargnani when they were matched up and seemed to get lost whenever he had to move out of the paint. It wasn't a horrendous day for Boozer by any stretch, and the Bulls certainly didn't need more out of him than they got.
Why the hell did Deng play 40 minutes?
Luol Deng must be the absolute god of intangibles, because despite his reputation for breaking down over the course of the season, every coach he's ever had wants to ride the hell out of him and make him the team leader in minutes played.
I like Luol Deng, but seriously, give the dude a rest every once in awhile. The Bulls played him until there were only two and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter despite having a 20 point lead for most of it.
Past that, Deng had an excellent game though. He scored plenty early when the Raptors had the lead and found his way to the foul line whenever the Bulls really needed a hoop. Could improve on the 5/9 from the free throw line once getting there, but still a great game overall by Luol.
Keith Bogans made me want to tear my eyes out
Alright Keith, you're in the game for defense. You are caught on Barngani in isolation at the three point line after a switch. What do you do? You run away to go find your man, leave him WIDE open for a three point shot, which he calmly knocks down and then walk down the court.
At least you went on miss a wide open three, then touch foul a big man on a breakaway giving him an easy three point play.
The Raptors started to run on the Bulls in the third period, and Keith Bogans left the game, and I turned to my wife and said "Bogans left the game, and so did the Raptors last chance of winning".
I know he tries hard, but seriously, what is the deal here? Just play Ronnie Brewer 35 minutes a game and be done with it. it's the equivalent of saying we need to get James Johnson 15 minutes a night, so we're only going to play Deng 26 minutes. It's just mind bogglingly stupid.
Kurt Thomas played pretty good defense again
Thomas's statline usually stinks, and if you weren't watching the games you might think he's somewhat of a trainwreck, but unlike Bogans, he actually contributes in many intangible ways.
For a guy with no quickness he does a great job of keeping guys in front of him, and he has to lead the NBA big men in clean strips per minutes played this year as he knocks the ball out cleanly on driving big men frequently.
When he is beat, he typically makes an aggressive hard foul preventing a three point play and mitigating the damage. It wasn't a great game for Kurt, but he's doing all you could ask of him.
Taj Gibson re-emerged as I predicted
He had numerous tip ins, knocked down jumpers, and hit the glass hard, and as I thought, was a tough matchup for the Raptors who don't really have the type of big men to cope with his non stop hustle and quickness around the hoop.
He committed a few ridiculous fouls, but overall it was great to see Taj knock down some jumpers again and get back to what he's good at offensively.
Omer Asik showed what happens when you don't put a big body on him
He wasn't killing guys with finesse or skill, but when the Raptors didn't have size on Asik, he just bullied the hell out of guys and dunked on them. It was great to see him play so aggressively.
He also brought the defense with several huge blocks including a monster stuff on a breakaway which he managed to do without fouling. Great to see games like this where Asik is clearly progressing.
C.J. Watson's stat line doesn't do him justice
Watson was a missed bunny away from having a much better statline as he flubbed an open layup after a full court Boozer pass, but Watson was simply tremendous out there tonight.
He brought a ton of energy to the game, played spectacular defense and did a great job running the offense. The Bulls took their big first lead when he subbed in during the first half and put the game away when he subbed in during the second half.
He's had a tough season, but we'll take more games like this if we can get them.
Ronnie Brewer continues to play well
Brewer was active and effective all game long, he played the passing lanes well, got in position to score, and did a nice job finishing shots.
As noted above, there's no case for Bogans to continue to start in my opinion. Brewer brings a lot to the table, and helps the offense so much. Bogans isn't respected any more than Brewer by the opposing defense at the three point line and isn't hurting them for a lack of respect.
Brewer does a nice job of taking the ball to the hole and finishing when guys run out at him and has knocked down the long two pointer when left open. He's a much better offensive option and the defense isn't even comparable.
Kyle Korver muddled through another poor shooting night
I still think the Bulls need to get him more minutes with Rose and less minutes trying to use him as the offensive creator off the bench. Korver struggled with his shot again and has shown that he's not that effective in the Rip Hamilton role we continually try to force him into.
Not much to complain about, another big win for the Bulls, and for once they didn't have to work too hard at it. Given they play four in five nights, it's nice to not struggle much in this one prior to flying out to New Jersey tonight.