Young Raptors get spanking ... ouch!

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:50 AM ET

At first glance, Wednesday’s starting lineups appeared to be a complete mismatch, with the Chicago Bulls starting two former NBA all-stars and an all-rookie forward against five Raptors who are household names in their own household. Maybe.

Upon further inspection, it was even worse than that.

With injuries to starters Andrea Bargnani (sore left knee), Jose Calderon (sore left foot) and Reggie Evans (fractured right foot), Toronto coach Jay Triano ended up pencilling in the youngest starting lineup in Raptors history — with the likes of Sonny Weems, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Jerryd Bayless — an average age of 22 years, 239 days. The oldest member of that lineup being Grandpa Weems, at 24 years, 160 days.

The previous youngest starting lineup for Toronto was on March 22, 1998, also against the Bulls, featuring John Wallace, Tracy McGrady, Marcus Camby, Doug Christie and Chauncey Billups — an average age of 23 years, 95 days. McGrady was all of 18 years, 302 days that night.

It was hardly a surprise, then, when the 16-8 Bulls, who have now won seven straight, jumped to 19-10 lead early and cruised to a 110-93 victory.

Triano threw everything at Bulls starting power forward Carlos Boozer, including Amir Johnson, rookie Ed Davis and Joey Dorsey, but to no avail. Boozer, a two-time NBA all-star, finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes.

“We were fortunate in terms of Bargnani and Calderon being out, and being a back-to-back for them, so we wanted to play the game with pace, and we did, and once we saw that we had Carlos going pretty good, we kept going to that,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

Give the Raps the thumb

Joakim Noah started at centre for Chicago, though it was announced during the game that he’ll have to undergo surgery on his right thumb when the Bulls get back to Chicago. He’ll likely miss eight to ten weeks. Despite the sore thumb, Noah played as if he didn’t have a care in the world, finishing the game with 11 rebounds, 11 points and two blocked shots in 26 minutes.

“He’s a warrior for playing through it for two to three weeks,” Boozer said of Noah. “You got to take your hat off to him for giving up his hand for us as long as he has.”

Ol’ Blue Eyes they ain’t

As if they weren’t already huge big shots, but Raptors broadcasters Eric Smith and Jack Armstrong are taking their fame to another level. The dynamic duo will be recording a CD of Christmas classics on Thursday at The Fan 590 called ‘From Brooklyn to Toronto’ and will sell copies at the Raptors games at the Air Canada Centre on Friday, Sunday and next Wednesday. They plan to record 14 Christmas songs, as well as a bonus song, The Night Before Christmas, though a few courtside wags suggested that a far better bonus would be for Smith and Armstrong to limit the number of songs. The ears can take only so much bleeding. The CD’s will go for $5 with the proceeds going to the Raptors charitable foundation.

Shakin’ goin’ on

Fans at the ACC Wednesday night received an Andrea Bargnani bobblehead, even though Il Mago didn’t play because of a sore left knee. It wasn’t the first time a Raptor was honoured with a bobblehead night and was unable to play. It also happened to T.J. Ford (2007), Morris Peterson (2006), and Jorge Garbajosa (2007) after Garbo broke his leg and ankle (horribly) in Boston. MoPete didn’t actually miss his bobblehead night, he missed his figurine night. La-di-da.

Weird and wild stuff

Late in the second quarter, trailing 50-38, the Raptors began booing after Derrick Rose out-hustled Leandro Barbosa for an offensive rebound. The Bulls were far more aggressive on the boards all night, out-rebounding Toronto 47-37 ... Triano ended up putting Julian Wright on Boozer. But nobody could guard Boozer, whose layup late in the first half, when he blew around Johnson for a 61-40 Bulls lead, brought down another chorus of boos ... Thibodeau, known for his intensity, stood pretty well the entire game, even when the Bulls led by 29 at one point ... Dorsey finished with a career first double-double with 13 rebounds and 12 points.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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