CHICAGO -- Chris Bosh may be the only one on this Raptors team who could relate, but he actually came out of last night's game feeling some sympathy for the Chicago Bulls.
And who could blame him? Not only did the Raptors manhandle the Bulls in a 101-71 laugher, improving their own record to 4-2 while dropping the Bulls to 1-5, they, just like every player on that Bulls bench, heard the United Center faithful turning on their own.
On more than one occasion last night chants of "Kobe, Kobe" took over the arena as the fans made it very clear just what they think needs to be done. If they weren't cheering for Kobe Bryant, they were booing their own.
Bosh remembers going through a similar time in his earlier days with the Raptors.
"It's hard and it hurts a lot just to hear boos on your home court," he said. "I've been through that and it's tough to play your heart out every night and still get booed. They have to have the mindframe that they have to keep going and eventually those same people booing will be back cheering."
Bosh and his teammates made sure that wasn't the case last night.
A slow start to the game that saw the Raptors turn the ball over 13 times in the first half alone (the Raptors came into the game averaging 12.7 turnovers a game), was offset by some sloppy play by the Bulls. Chicago turned it over 10 times in the first 24 minutes, but unlike the Raptors failed to knock down their shots, allowing Toronto to take a nine-point lead into halftime.
Luol Deng, who has been a Raptors killer of sorts, particularly last season when he lead the Bulls in scoring in three of the four games against Toronto, had a new problem to deal with.
His name is Jamario Moon and he's probably the one Raptor who can match Deng's length and athleticism. Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said he "rolled the dice" a bit in starting his 27-year-old rookie but was paid back in spades when Moon held Deng in check the entire night. Deng was just 2-for-8 from the field in 22 minutes, finishing the night with just five points.
Mitchell didn't tell Moon he was starting until just before tipoff, a move Moon said he very much appreciated.
"Sure I was surprised, but I didn't even have time to think about it. I just told him I'll be ready. That's all I said. I think that's why he waited until game time to tell me. I didn't have time to think about it."
Moon said as far as he knows the start was a matchup start and said he wasn't expecting to be back in the starting lineup when the Raptors face Utah on Wednesday.
Carlos Delfino lead all Raptors with 16 points in just under 20 minutes.
Point guards T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon combined for 23 assists and just three turnovers, continuing their stellar work this season.
The Raptors broke this one open in the third quarter, going on an 11-1 run before Bulls coach Scott Skiles benched his entire starting five.
"We deserved it the way we came out in that second half," Deng said. "To come out the way we did was embarrassing. We didn't do anything well."
By the end of the third the Raptors' nine-point lead had grown to 34 and they didn't look back.
The Raps came out in the third quarter with about ten times the effort they showed in the first half and with an 11-1 run in the first 21/2 minutes robbed the Bulls of any remaining interest they had in the game.
Two games into the Nesterovic for Bargnani switch in the starting lineup, the move continues to look like a winner. Four boards and four points in his first eight minutes for Nesterovic followed seven boards in his first seven minutes the night before in Philadelphia.
LACK OF OFFENCE
The 71 points by the Bulls is not even the lowest total the Raps have held an opponent to this season. In the second game of the year, the Raps held New Jersey to just 69 points.