TORONTO - These spirited comebacks are nice, really. And last night’s was something to see, no question.
But the days of moral victories meaning much have long since been spent in Toronto.
It’s the holes the Raptors dig themselves early that make these things possible and ultimately meaningless.
Now that may change eventually when the Raptors finally finish one of these off, but until that happens, for all the good feelings about the fight and competitive fire, and there was plenty of that in the building even after the loss last night, it’s just another loss.
For the second night in a row, this one obviously a little more impressive considering the Raps were playing consecutive nights and the fact they did force overtime, the Raps followed an all too familiar script of getting down early, and battling back gamely only to come up short.
Yes, it did require overtime but once there the Raptors couldn’t matched the veteran presence of the Bulls who have been in these situations many times before.
It came down the final 8.7 seconds and Luol Deng, with a bit of a push off on a defending Landry Fields sank a 15-footer for the win.
The Raps had 3.3 seconds and eventually got a decent three-point attempt from Jose Calderon that would have won it but it hit back rim an bounced out.
The final this time was
107-105, and as gutsy and commendable as the comeback was, the Raptors are looking for results and this was just another one they didn’t get.
The Bulls looked like they were going to run away with this one with a 19-point lead with just over four minutes remaining in the third.
But the Raptors rallied over the final four trimming that lead by 13 points on the strength of some fine shooting from Alan Anderson and Kyle Lowry and plenty of hustle and dirty work from rookie Quincy Acy, who, if he was a fan favourite here before, took it to another level last night, drawing four charges and scoring a career-high eight points to boot.
The damage though was done early by the Bulls, particularly one Carlos Boozer, who seemed incapable of missing for most of the first half.
Boozer had 25 of his game-high 36 points by half time not to mention the 11 rebounds to go with that.
Toronto couldn’t match Boozer with any one player but the combination of Anderson and Lowry, both coming off the bench, was at least a nice response.
Lowry, who was coming off a 19-point fourth quarter in a loss Tuesday, had 26 Wednesday night and seven assists.
Anderson had only two points in Brooklyn the night before but played only eight minutes after a Brook Lopez elbow knocked out a huge portion of one of his front teeth.
Anderson returned Wednesday with a new tooth and a re-located shooting stroke as he went 9-for-17 from the field for a team-high 27 points.
Throughout the final two minutes of regulation, the Raptors had the lead down to two on a few occasions before Lowry got matched up against Joakim Noah out at the arc and took him to the tin for a bucket that cut the lead to one.
With 53 seconds left on the clock the Bulls failed to stretch the lead as Marco Belinelli’s attempt found iron and was rebounded by Landry Fields.
The Raps went down and had their own chance to take the lead when Amir Johnson was fouled going to the basket. Johnson made one of two to tie it leaving 11.8 seconds on the clock.
Belinelli once again tried to do it on his own and failed to convert leaving the Raptors .7 seconds to win it but Anderson couldn’t squeeze the inbound and it was off to overtime.