The Raptors tried running with the Bulls last night and were trampled.
After losing four of five on a Western Conference road swing, the Raptors returned home to the friendly confines of the Air Canada Centre and, despite the best efforts of Mike James in the third quarter, weren't able to rise above a determined Chicago Bulls squad.
The Raptors played like two teams -- the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight in the first half, and a decent NBA outfit in the second.
But in the end, a 15-point difference at the half was just too much of a deficit and Chicago departed Toronto with a 104-88 victory. The loss was Toronto's third in a row and 12th straight to the Bulls.
Needless to say, head coach Sam Mitchell was not impressed with his team's effort.
"There were three loose balls after we made a run and those guys (Chicago) got down on the floor," Mitchell said. "And the thing I'm telling my guys now is that we're 43 games into the season, at the halfway point.
"All the teams on the bubble for the playoffs, if that ball goes on the floor, if you bend over and don't get on the floor (dive for loose balls), you're going to get hurt, because they're going to go on the floor and get the ball."
The Raps actually started strong, moving ahead 8-3 before allowing the Bulls to go on a 23-4 run midway in the first. The Raptors shot only 28% (11-for-40) in the first half and trailed 56-41.
Down 28-16 heading into the second quarter, tempers began to heat up on the Toronto bench. Morris Peterson and Jose Calderon exchanged words during a timeout, prompting Darrick Martin to get in between them.
With 8:21 left in the quarter, starting point guard James picked up his third personal foul and a technical. On his way to the bench, an enraged James turned to his coach and screamed: "He's full of sh--!"
James began to bring the Raptors back late in the third quarter with back-to-back baskets followed by a steal, which led to a Joey Graham basket, bringing Toronto to within eight with 4:45 left in the third quarter.
And then, with just more than three minutes left in the third quarter, James delivered a perfect alley-oop pass to Bosh, who responded with a huge slam dunk, bringing the Raptors to within four (67-63).
But the Bulls continued to take the game to Toronto and pulled away each time the Raps tried to work their way back.
The Chicago bench was instrumental in the victory, outscoring their Toronto counterparts 60-29, led by forward Darius Songalia, who had 19 points -- with six rebounds -- and guard Chris Duhon, who had 26 and eight assists.
Chris Bosh had 20 for the Raps and seven boards while James finished with 19 and seven assists. Jalen Rose scored 13 and Matt Bonner had 11 off the bench.
With two minutes left in the game, Chicago coach Scott Skiles sent Stephen Graham into the game to guard his twin brother, Joey.