TORONTO,ON–The Raptors pulled off a surprising victory in matador style as they tamed the Chicago Bulls in Toronto. On the second game of a back to back, the Raps showed surprising energy to emerge with a 118-113 victory.
Derozan and Bargnani were once again the offensive leaders, scoring 24 points apiece while Amir Johnson posted 17 points and four rebounds. Calderon’s recent shooting woes continued only scoring six points, but numero ocho dished out 17 assists. Calderon now has provided 10+ assists in his last six games.
Toronto played it tough all game as the excitement in the sold out ACC culminated with the game being tied with a minute left in the final quarter. Barbosa and Amir Johnson produced in the fourth, while Derrick Rose single handedly kept his team in the game. Rose played as well as a point guard could, scoring 32 points while also adding 10 assists.
Rose was the offensive catalyst for the Bulls, almost winning the game for Chicago if it was not for some clutch shooting by the Raptors late in the game.
Wednesday night’s game was the debut of newest Raptor James Johnson who was acquired earlier in the day. Johnson, in a coincidental trade, was acquired from Chicago. He travelled with his Bulls’ teammates to Toronto, and joined the Raptors upon arrival. In a surprising move by Coach Triano, James Johnson started for the Raptors in his first game ahead of Sonny Weems. Johnson finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks, exhibiting fantastic energy and a willingness to take the ball to the rim.
Wednesday night was also Joachim Noah’s first game for the Bulls since December 16th. Noah missed 30 games with a broken thumb, returning to score 7 points and grab 16 boards. Toronto now improves to 16-42 on the season
The Trade deadline is at 3:00 pm on Thursday. The Raptors have already made one move acquiring James Johnson from the Chicago Bulls for Miami’s 2011 first round pick, (acquired in the Chris Bosh trade.) Expect Raptors to involve themselves in further trade negotiations. Possible trade bait includes Leandro Barbosa and possibly Jose Calderon. Also, remember the Raptors still have about $9 million left in the trade exception from Miami this past summer.
Toronto’s next game is Friday night versus the Phoenix Suns. Vince Carter returns to Toronto, almost a week after Chris Bosh made his first appearance to the ACC.
Stay tuned for the NPH feature on Toronto’s most hated villain. CB4 or Vinsanity?
Photo Courtesy: NBA.com