Raptors lose playoff-style tilt to Bulls

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) passes while being guarded by Toronto Raptors centre Amir...

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) passes while being guarded by Toronto Raptors centre Amir Johnson in NBA play at the Air Canada Centre Wednesday, February 19, 2014. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 PM ET

Two games into the Raptors post all-star journey, the Raptors got a wake up call of sorts.

More of a not-so-gentle reminder really courtesy one of the hardest working and most physical teams in the NBA.

It was a reminder of what it takes to win a basketball game in the trenches, the kind of basketball the Raptors can expect in the playoffs.

By no means did the Raptors wilt when the Bulls flexed their muscles. Even a year ago they might have let the Bulls intimidate them but this team has more push back than previous Raptors squads.

What they still lack is that ability to get a bucket in the dying seconds with the game on the line. The Raps had that chance last night and again came up empty dropping a 94-92 decision to the Bulls.

For much of the night the Raptors push back level was just a little below what the Bulls were delivering.

With Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler in the starting five the Bulls know how to play physical. When Taj Gibson comes off the bench the physical quotient takes another leap forward.

The Bulls may be without its go-to point guard in Derrick Rose for the remainder of the season, but they’re still one of the better barometers in the league in terms of testing one’s toughness.

Wednesday’s game, which turned into a nailbiter, told you Toronto isn’t quite there, but they’re certainly not that far away either.

Granted the Bulls had the distinct advantage of having been sitting in Toronto while the Raps were in Washington on Tuesday night. So the circumstances were definitely in Chicago’s favour but knowing Dwane Casey he’s not going to give his team that out when they sit down and go over film of this one.

The first quarter in particular was one that Casey will harp on, as much for the indifferent rebounding and boxing out under their own basket as anything.

The Bulls outscored Toronto10-2 in the first on second chance points, most of them coming off the Raps inability to rebound Chicago misses.

In fact the first quarter looked very much like what you would expect from a rested team taking on one playing its second in two nights.

Outside of DeMar DeRozan who seemed unable to miss, the Raptors were pretty much contained by the Bulls who play a stifling defence and seemed to have the rest of the Raptors wrapped up rather tightly.

The second quarter was different story as the Raps found their collective defensive legs and the offence came alive. They were still down by seven at the half but that was a huge improve

Problematic all night for the Raptors was foul trouble with Lowry picking up three early one’s limiting his ability to play his normally aggressive style for much of the night. Lowry picked up his fifth with about five minutes remaining and his sixth and disqualifying with 2.4 seconds remaining in the game.

Point guard D.J. Augustin, a Raptor for five weeks or so, who never really did get it going in Toronto, has obviously found his niche in Chicago.

This wasn’t Augustin’s first game against Toronto in Bulls uniform. It was actually his third, and easily his most effective.

Augustin had 19 points including four of five from distance including a big thee with about two minutes left that kept the Bulls lead at a comfortable margin.

The biggest bugaboo for the Raptors all night was its three-point game. After shooting 44% from three a night earlier the Raps went a woeful 3-for-16 from distance while the Bulls were humming along at a 58% clip from beyond the arc making 7-of-12.

The Raps were led once again in scoring by DeRozan who had 32 on a night but airballed a key attempt with 30 seconds left and then failed to get a shot off with the Raptors down by one and just a handful of seconds left on the clock.

No other Raptor had more than Lowry’s 16 on the night


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