While I haven’t been able to confirm whether it’s a cash deal or if they took out a mortgage, the Bulls now officially own the Toronto Raptors.
Playing without Pau Gasol (knee), Mike Dunleavy (stomach virus) and Derrick Rose (who keeps track after all these years), the Bulls were still able to go north of the border and beat the Raptors 109-107 on Monday. The Bulls’ 9th straight win over Toronto not only allowed them to sweep the season series 4-0 for the second consecutive year, it also moved them back into 8th place in the Eastern Conference with 17 games left in the regular season.
Even though Butler scored only 13 points and struggled mightily from the field (5/18), the Bulls still placed five players in double figures, led by Doug McDermott’s 29 points. McBuckets rarely missed on this night (9/11 FG), scoring on runners, free throws (7/8) and three-pointers (4/5) with relative ease. He played a team-high 36:30 and almost matched his career-high of 30 points set earlier this year against the Raptors.
E’Twaun Moore (8/11 FG) and Nikola Mirotic each scored 17 for the Bulls, while Taj Gibson matched Butler’s 13 and added 10 rebounds as well. Jimmy didn’t shoot well, but he pitched in team-highs of six assists and two blocked shots to go along with five rebounds.
One other important statistic of note – the Bulls are now 6-1 this season when Jimmy Butler plays and Derrick Rose doesn’t. They are 4-6 when Derrick Rose plays and Jimmy Butler doesn’t. But while I’d love to give my theory on why this is, and what it means for the Bulls’ future, that’s a story for a different day
Justin Holiday started for the second straight game, and while early foul trouble limited him to 14:02, he chipped in with five points (2/4 FG, 1/2 three-pointers), three rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot. The Bulls were a +13 during his limited minutes, and he once again played the outstanding defense he has already become known for in his short time as a Bull. He has now made 8/18 from behind the arc in 10 games since coming to Chicago at the trade deadline, and is looking like he could be a part of the Bulls’ playoff rotation for his defense alone.
The Raptors came into the game having won 14 of their last 15 home games, and they almost came back to win this one. But Jimmy made the defensive play of the game when he stripped DeMar DeRozan on a layup attempt that would have tied the game with a second remaining. The officials originally awarded possession to the Raptors after the play, but on video review it was obvious that the ball hit DeRozan’s elbow after Butler’s strip.
The Bulls next game is Wednesday, when they travel to Washington to take on the Wizards at 6 PM CT. The game will be telecast locally on WGN-TV and nationally on NBA League Pass.