Zach LaVine powers Bulls past Raptors 109-105

TORONTO – The Toronto Raptors have been plagued with inconsistencies all season, once again ruining their postseason hopes.

Zach LaVine took over in the second half as the Chicago Bulls beat Toronto 109-105 Wednesday to win a single-elimination play-in game. He later scored 30 out of 39 points.

The Raptors made only 50% of their 36 free throw attempts, including two critical misses by Pascal Siakam that could have tied the game with 12 seconds remaining.

“We didn’t play the best in the fourth quarter and we couldn’t stop them. They kept scoring,” said Siakam, who finished the game with 32 points and nine rebounds.

“I missed some free throws, especially the last two which were very important, but I just missed them.”

The story continues under the ad

Fred VanVleet had a double-double for Toronto with 26 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, including seven three-pointers. He said it would take at least two weeks to process the loss.

“No matter how you look at it, losing in the play-ins is going to be frustrating,” he said. I try to understand the

After finishing the regular season with a 41-41 record, the Raptors hosted the game and finished ninth in the East. That put them just ahead of the 40-42 Bulls.

Related Videos

“We definitely saw some good stretches, but there were also some stretches that didn’t work out at all,” Siakam said. “Looking at the season, I think we’ve had a lot of ups and downs and we have to do better.”

The story continues under the ad

Former Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan had 23 points and seven rebounds for the Bulls. Center Nikola Vucevic completed a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.

DeRozan visited the Raptors’ locker room after the game and had a lengthy conversation with VanVleet.

“It’s just my brother,” said VanVleet, adding that he and DeRozan haven’t spoken in weeks, hoping to face off in the play-ins.

“It was nice to meet him, but I’m not very happy right now.”

Chicago will face the Heat in Miami on Friday in the second round of the play-in tournament. The winner of that match will become the No. 8 seed in the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs, where they will face the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.

VanVleet sank a buzzing 3-pointer before the break to get 19,800 fans at Scotiabank Arena to their feet and give the Raptors a 58-47 lead. The Raptors didn’t give up starting the third set, extending their lead to 18 points with a 10-3 run.

However, Lavigne survived the final three minutes of the third round and scored 11 points, including eight in a row, to cut Toronto’s lead to 81–72.

“LaVine supercooked for the third time,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “They were really flooring us, going through the first line of defense and digging deeper towards the rim.”

The story continues under the ad

With the Bulls going 8-0 with six points, Toronto’s advantage shrunk to three early in the fourth inning.

Alex Caruso calmed the sold-out crowd with a 3-pointer to tie the score at 91-91 with 6:26 remaining. Chicago forced a timeout as Scotty Barnes returned quickly with a Toronto layup. On the ensuing possession, Caruso stole the ball for an uncontested layup.

Patrick Beverley hit a 3-point shot on the Bulls’ next possession to give them their first lead of the game. Siakam’s dunk gave life to the fans, but LaVine responded with a jumper to keep him on the 3-point lead before Barnes and DeRozan traded his goals on the field.

VanVleet missed a deep three-pointer, but the rebound came out to Toronto guard Gary Trent Jr., who returned it to VanVleet to tie the game. VanVleet did not miss his second chance and with 3:10 remaining he tied the score 100-100.

After Lavigne answered with two points, DeRozan grabbed a defensive rebound and scored on the other side to give the Bulls a four-point lead in less than two minutes.

Barnes made a free throw on the Raptors’ next possession. Siakam was fouled by Beverly with 50 seconds remaining and fired one of two shots at the Charity Stripe to cut Chicago’s lead to two.

The story continues under the ad

DeRozan then hit a free throw with 28.7 seconds left to force a timeout in Toronto. On the ensuing possession, Siakam drove into the net for a two-handed dunk and a 1-point Raptors deficit.

LaVine was fouled and sent to the free-throw line after Caruso inbounded the ball to him. LaVine had both shots and the Raptors tied the game in 17.9 seconds.

Caruso, who supplied the ball to Siakam on an inbound pass, immediately gave the Toronto All-Star forward three free throws.

Siakam sank the first ball, but hit it on the second, and the ball rolled off the rim on the third, giving Chicago a two lead.

Bucevic was fouled on the rebound on Siakam’s final free throw, making both free throws for the final score of the game.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on April 12, 2023.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button