The Chicago Bulls needed Jimmy Butler back to stop the losing and to put themselves back within the top 8 in the East. It worked, even if it has a lot more to do with Doug McDermott feeling very comfortable against the Toronto Raptors.
Maybe more comfortable than against any other team, like the Bulls matchup very well with Toronto, even in a bad season for them. McDermott scored 29 points in 109-107 win the Bulls almost threw out the window, but still managed to hang on, making it their ninth straight against the Raptors. They didn’t turn the ball over (only 8, and 13 combined) and looked better most of the time without a natural point guard playing. Derrick Rose was out while Aaron Brooks did more harm than good during his minutes.
McDermott, who scored 24 points in the first half, has scored more than 20 points only one other time this season: Against the Raptors last month, finishing with 30. It’s not some personal issue. He just matches up well against them. There’s just something about it. I played really well against them in Summer League in Vegas. There’s something about it. It’s not like I have anything against them, grudges or anything, I just match up really well against them.
But despite scoring just 13 points and going 5-of-18 from the field after missing three games, Butler still made some big plays for the Bulls at the right time. A clutch free throw and a defensive play on DeMar DeRozan, who scored 27 points in the game. DeRozan was trying to send the game into overtime, running the floor trying to get a layup up in time. Butler shadowed him the entire possession, and got a hand in just as DeRozan went up, knocking the ball out of his hands and sealing the win for the Bulls.
I’ve guarded him plenty. I know you bring that ball down you’ve got to bring it back up to get to the basket. Luckily I had a quick enough hand to get a piece of it, hit off his knee and we took it the other way.
One interesting moment in the game happened in the closing minutes, with the Bulls up 106-103. Justin Holiday was trying to inbound a ball. The combination of the Raptors playing good defense and Drake annoying him by talking to him from a feet away helped the Raptors win back possession as the Bulls were called for a five-second violation. DeRozan took advantage of that to make it a one-point game, but eventually it didn’t help the Raptors close the gap from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost in Salt Lake City.
The Bulls thought they’d be in these kind of battles before the season began, but things turn out very differently than what you expect sometime. They’re now battling to make it into the playoffs, something they haven’t missed since the 2007-2008 season, which then resulted in them taking Derrick Rose with the number one overall pick. This team does need some new blood and maybe new thinking, the playoffs is all they’re thinking about. Who knows, maybe ending up 7th could be a blessing in disguise, with the Raptors waiting in the first round.