Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
The Chicago Bulls evened their record at 1-1 with a thrilling victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at the United Center.
Here are 10 noteworthy observations from the game:
DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caurso emerged as the heroes of the night. DeRozan scored an impressive 33 points, with 18 of them coming in the fourth quarter. Caruso made crucial defensive plays down the stretch and sealed the win with a game-winning 3-pointer, assisted by Zach LaVine.
Offensively, the Bulls struggled throughout the game, especially in the halfcourt. They had difficulty completing passes and their shooting was subpar. These issues resulted in a low-scoring and unimpressive performance. The Bulls shot 37.4 percent overall and only 20 percent from 3-point range.
DeRozan singlehandedly brought the Bulls back to life in the game. His pump fake moves consistently drew fouls and sent him to the free-throw line. However, he missed a crucial free throw that could have tied the game and had a failed putback attempt in traffic during the final seconds. Caruso also made a key defensive play by blocking Pascal Siakam before the game-winning shot.
The Raptors dominated the start of the second half with an 11-0 run, extending their momentum from the second quarter. The slow starts in both halves are raising concerns about the starting lineup’s effectiveness. Although it is unlikely that coach Billy Donovan will make changes so early in the season, this is a storyline worth following.
Zach LaVine had another difficult game, shooting 3-for-14 from the field and finishing with a minus-23 rating. He also appeared to be dealing with lower back issues, as he wore a wrap and pad during warmups.
Patrick Williams saw limited playing time, exiting the game in the third quarter and not returning. He shot 1-for-5 and contributed three rebounds and two steals. Torrey Craig stepped in as his replacement and played 23 minutes.
Craig made a strong impact on the game, emulating Dennis Rodman with his style and energy. He created extra possessions and attacked the offensive glass, helping the Bulls improve their offensive rebounding and second-chance points. The Bulls finished with 24 second-chance points, an improvement from last season.
Nikola Vucevic had a decent game, attempting eight field goals in the first half alone. He ended the game with 11 points and 12 rebounds, albeit on 4-for-15 shooting. His frustration with the offense was evident in a heated exchange with coach Donovan during the previous game. The Bulls made a conscious effort to involve Vucevic more, especially when the Raptors’ Jakob Poeltl was not on the court.
The Bulls had a rough start to the game, missing their first five shots and committing turnovers. They struggled to get out in transition and relied heavily on halfcourt offense. Coach Donovan called an early timeout to address these issues, and the Bulls responded with a dominant 20-0 run. Contributions from players like Craig, Caruso, and Coby White helped turn the game in their favor.
DeRozan guaranteed an improved effort from the team, and they delivered. Although they started poorly, their defensive efforts improved, leading to the 20-0 run that shifted the game’s momentum. The Bulls showed great effort on the defensive end, but turnovers remained a problem, with 17 committed throughout the game.