Now the actual Rose Garden is in Portland of course. But United likely can't afford sponsorship for the arena in Chicago in these though times. So why not just call it the Rose Garden. Maybe because of that M.J statue outside. Rose may never be as good as that guy. But same may be said for a lot of guys not named Kobe or Lebron. The Raptors got burned badly last time they saw Derrick Rose. But this time with the exception of Kris Humphries it is all hands on deck. Jose Calderon and J.O along with Chris Bosh all good to go. Still can it make a difference? Well it should on offense. But that is not as big a problem as the lack of defense. Jose Calderon is not going to improve that at all. In fact Rose could likely beat him as easy as the back ups. But J.O will add some shot blocking to the mix. However with his bags packed waiting for word on when that call is coming from Miami how hard can we expect him to play? I am not sure to be honest with you. It seems clear the writing is on the wall that he is not here for much longer. Just being a normal human being that makes it hard to stay focused. You can make the speech about being a professional and all of that. I hear you, but when you have been reduced to a secondary role on a team that has their playoff chances hanging by a thread, how much can you really expect. Bosh got humbled by Noah in the last match up of these two teams. Knowing the type of guy Bosh is I doubt he has forgot that. However his overall frustration with this team is becoming clear. I don't blame him a bit for that. He may not like the term frustration but it fits what I am seeing. It has been an awful year after what was likely a high point in his life winning a gold medal. There has been nothing golden about this season for Chris Bosh. I even wonder if he might pay the price for the lack of his team's success by not getting named to the All Star Game. People talk about Danny Granger not getting the nod because of his team's record. Well Bosh's team's record is very similar. The next 4 games on the schedule are not hard games but after that 4 very hard games( Magic, Hornets, Cavs, Lakers ). Paul Jones and Eric Smith made that point in their Vlog today and it is a valid one. If the Raptors don't win 3 of the next 4 games any kind of a comeback trade or not will not matter. So with that sobering news let's get ready for some basketball shall we?
Raptors busting out the black jerseys for this one. Bulls win the tip and away we go. Ben Gordon who is not a happy camper missed his first shot of the night. Raptors also miss on their first trip. Derrick Rose moves on the break off a turnover for a lay up. Andrea Bargnani would respond and open the scoring for the Raptors. Calderon would get the next basket and makes his first jumper in a long while. Ben Gordon was fined for showing up late for the Bulls plane and he let it be known he was not happy. He would make a 3 pointer with a little lighter wallet. But Bargnani was off to a good start and Anthony Parker would add to that effort as well. Raptors had an early 10-7 lead. Jamario Moon got a quick hook for Joey Graham. But Derrick Rose was taking it to Calderon he made a sweet move and left Jose wondering where he went. Bulls fought back to take a 13-10 lead. Calderon would at least make up for his bad defense by making a jumper. Anthony Parker who was back to his normal position after filling in for Jose seemed to be enjoying that as he made another jumper. That put the Raptors back up by a point.
J.O had checked into the game and made a jump shot. Bosh would take it to the bucket and jam it home. Raptors had an 18-13 lead. Chicago would answer with a bucket but J.O would hooked up Joey G for 2. Raptors would get another jumper from Calderon who was 3-3 to start his return and he would have a seat with Raptors up 22-17. Kapono would check in for Calderon and Parker would slide over to play the point. Graham would get another basket to give the Raptors a 7 point lead. But Deng would answer and a block on Bosh, that would lead to Tyrus Thomas dunking it in the grill of J.O. The Bulls had cut the lead down to 3 points. Thomas had the block as well that was on Bosh. A travel on Jermaine O'Neal would give Bull a chance to cut more off the lead but would not be able to score. Andrea Bargnani would drive and draw a foul and head to the line. He would make both from the line and the Raptors lead 26-21. He would get another basket next time down the floor and had an early eight points and the Raptors lead 28-21. Kirk Hinrich was in the game and makes his first attempt of the night. The Bulls would get a tap back on a Hinrich miss as they had made it closer late in the 1st. Raptors lead 28-25 after the first quarter in Chicago.
Both teams were shooting off the charts. Raptors shooting 66% and the Bulls 57% as defense was a lost art in the hometown the new President. Bulls would open the scoring and cut the lead to just 1 point out of the gate in the 2nd. J.O would make his way to the line and made both. Turnover for the Bulls would lead to a push out that would see Andrea Bargnani get to the line. Bargnani would split a pair and the Raptors lead 31-27. Raptors continue to roll as Kapono would make a 3 pointer and Raptors lead 34-27. The Bulls would storm back on a run to tie it up at 34. But Bargnani would snap that run and Derrick Rose would quickly answer.
Andres Nocinoni would make a 3 pointer to give the Bulls the lead 39-36. Chris Bosh felt he was fouled before a time out. He would plead his case to Dick Bavetta but he was not going to win that conversation. But out of time out he would just drive and score. Jamario Moon was out of the dog house and back in the game and scored to give the Raptors a 40-39 lead. Bulls would once again push back but a Derrick Rose air ball would break that run. Bulls had a 44-40 lead at that point and Jose Calderon made a jumper and he looked very good with his shot tonight. Calderon would hook up Moon and he already had 8 point and 5 dimes. But the Raptors still trailed 46-44. Derrick Rose would recover for the air ball and make his next shot. Be Gordon would follow up on that with a shot of his own. Jermaine O'Neal would get fouled by Tyrus Thomas and Thomas was talking trash and J.O was to say the least not amused. It may have distracted him as he missed his first free throw and made the second. Bulls were hanging on to the lead up 50-48. Thomas and O'Neal would get together again giving J.O a chance to tie the game and he would. All even at 50 with less then a minute to play. Teams exchanged baskets and stayed tied at 52. Jamario Moon would send Deng to the line with a chance to give the Bulls the lead from the line. Which he would do making both. Raps would call a 20 second time out looking to get a score with 10 seconds to go in the half. Bosh would drive it and get to the line. He would make both and a Rose throw up from far away would not fall. So we head to the half tied at 54.
Solid first half for Andrea Bargnani who was only player in this game in double figures with an 11 point effort in the first half shooting 50% from the field. Defense is still pretty much MIA in Chicago as Raps were shooting 54% and Bulls 52% from the field. First play of the half went to Bosh would would draw the foul and send him to the line. He would make the basket and make the and 1 at the line. Claderon would then look to get it to Bargnani would wold make his first shot of the second half. Raptors had a 60-55 lead in the early stages of the 3rd quarter. Calderon would find Bargnani on the break and he would drive and score. 8 dimes for Jose in his return and 16 points for Bargnani. More important than all of that the Raptors lead 62-55.
A correction on the as Bargnani 3 pointer was changed to a 2 pointer. So make it 15 for him. But Bosh and Calderon both would score and the Raptors had built a 65-55 lead. They had started the quarter on an 11-1 run. Calderon would score again and he had 12 points and the Raptor run had been extended to a 13-1 run. This was nothing like the Bulls team that came into the ACC just over a week ago. The Raptors had a better roster to play against them. However the Bulls were just not as good as well. That combination had the Raptors leading 67-56. Bosh would foul Nocioni hard and these to struggling teams were starting to get after each other. The one on one stuff with O'Neal and Thomas was spreading though out the rosters of both teams. Bargnani would hit a 3 pointer after Nocioni would make the foul shots. Andres would answer with a 3 pointer for the Bulls. But the Raptors would move the ball well and find Parker for a 3 pointer. Raptors lead 73-61. After a Bulls score Ben Gordon would look for another and he took a hard foul from Jamario Moon. He could only split a pair and the Raptors lead 73-64 with just about half of the third quarter to play.
Wide open look for Kirk Hinrich would quietly had scored 12 off the bench for the Bulls. Raptors were showing signs of leakage still leading 73-67 but the offense had gone cold. But Raps were hanging in for now as J.O picked up a charge. Derrick Rose with a sweet jumper and the Bulls had an 8-0 run and cut the Raptor lead down to just 4. Jay Triano had seen enough and wanted a time out. Raptors couldn't score out of the time out but Bosh created a turnover at the other end. It would lead to him getting a score on the other end with a jumper. Bosh would have a chance to build the lead more but would get called for a travel. But again on the other end created a turnover and this time it lead to a Parker basket. Raptors lead 77-69. Bulls would answer but Parker would make it back to back baskets for him. Another hard foul by the Raptors and the Bulls split a pair from the line. Parker at the point now would hook up Kapono for a 2 point jumper. Bulls would make a pair from the line and the Raptors lead was 81-74. Joey Graham would make a jumper to give the Raptors a 9 point lead to take to the fourth quarter. They lead it 83-74.
It sure looked like the Raptors could hang on to this one. The question as it has been all season is would they? Raptors at shot it well all night as they were shooting 56% from the field. The 4th started with a mid range jumper from Kapono. The Bulls would answer. Nocinoni had a chance to cut the lead further but would miss the 3 pointer. Bosh would get on the glass and allow Joey Graham to get to the line and make a pair from it. After a slow start Joey was doing well. Raptors were as a team up 87-77. A steal for Joey and he set up Parker for an open 3 pointer but he would miss it. Raptors were not allowing any easy baskets as they fouled Ben Gordon hard. He would make both. But Joey Graham was heating up as he had 2 more and had 13 on the night. Raptors lead 89-80. The Raptors were showing some toughness that we had not seen at any point this season that I can recall. Ben Gordon would make a jump shot and cut the Raptor lead to 7 with the score 89-82.
Full marks to Jose Calderon as he had out played Derrick Rose to this point. Ben Gordon was the one guy keeping the Bulls in it. He made another running jumper to cut the lead to 5. A three second call on the Raptors would give Bulls a chance to cut the lead more. However Nocioni would miss a 3 pointer. Kapono would miss as well and the Bulls with another chance to score would do so. Jose Calderon would get a much needed basket to push lead to 91-86. Gordon would find his way to the line though and make a pair and the lead was back to just three. A Bosh miss and Bulls had a chance to tie or pull to down 1. Deng would make it happen for the Bulls. Calderon would look to get it to Bosh who would deliver. A Bulls turnover which was a frequent occurrence in this game would lead to Joey Graham heading to the line for two after a time out on the floor.
This was one of the better effort we had seen from the Raptors in quite some time. Graham would miss his first but make his second. Deng would score on the other end and the Raptor lead was just 94-92. Rose would foul Calderon and send him to the line where he had not missed all year and would not here. Raptors lead 96-92 as Jose was 78 for 78 from the line on the year. Andrea Bargnani would foul Noah but he would miss a pair. After that Noah would pick up his 6th foul ending his night and sending Bargnani to the line with 4:38 to go. Bargnani would split a pair and the Raptors lead 97-92. Nocioni would try a 3 pointer but would not make it and Raptors claim the board. They would miss but get on the offensive glass and that would get Parker a open look from 3 point range in the corner and he made it. Raptors lead was up to 8 with the score 100-92. Joey Graham was hot tonight making another jumper and he was 6-7 on the night. He would take that effort back with him on defense helping the Raptors get a stop. Raptors would have the ball up 10 with 2:48 to go. Jose Calderon would get a score and he had 18 on the night and the Raptors lead was a dozen. Andrea Bargnani would pretty much seal it up with a 3 pointer and Raptors lead 107-92. Adding insult to injury for the Bulls Calderon would jack up a 3 pointer and nail it. Calderon would continue to see his point total rise and his free throw record with 2 more from the line. He would get to take a seat after he had an amazing return with 23 points and 10 assists. The Raptors would have their first win since beating the Grizzlies at home on January 9th. It was a 114-94 white washing of the Bulls.
Full marks to a couple guys that I take issue with. Jose Calderon was they guy that was advertised when this season began with an outstanding night. Also Joey Graham really got after it tonight and was great. Given the way Moon has played of late I never thought I would say this but put Joey G in the starting line-up. A Boxscore worth looking at for a change.
This looked a lot like the team that was advertised at the start of the season. I will point out this was just one game and in and of itself does not mean a lot. However when you have lost 7 straight games...Screw that enjoy this win folks because not only did the Raptors earn it, but so have all of us for having to watch the 7 games before this one. Raptors will look to make it 2 in a row against the Kings on Sunday night. If they have half the effort and energy they showed tonight they should do that easily.