Getting handled in someone else's territory is one thing. Letting it happen in your own turf is another.
So after an ugly 109-90 drubbing in Chicago earlier this month, where the Bulls finished with a 44-22 rebound advantage, the Toronto Raptors had hoped to use Wednesday night to save face.
"It's just a level of pride. You don't want to go into the season knowing a team handled you in their building as well as their own," said Jarrett Jack prior to the Bulls-Raptors matchup on Wednesday night.
At Air Canada Centre, the Bulls defeated Toronto 110-103 in a close game that saw the Bulls pull away in the final quarter. "I think they cranked it up a little bit, and we tried to and we couldn't," Raptors head coach Jay Triano said afterward.
"I kind of take a little bit of the blame for that. We practiced hard this morning...we've been going hard. We just didn't seem to have the legs."
Still, he added, "it's no excuse."
After falling behind 27-22 after the first quarter, the Raptors' energetic second line mounted a comeback. Toronto led by as many as 10 points before heading into the second half ahead 54-50. And while they trailed only by three heading into the final quarter, they could only chip away at the Bulls' ten-point lead before time ran out.
Reggie Evans had 16 rebounds for Toronto, including eight in the first quarter. Leandro Barbosa led Toronto in scoring with 22. Andrea Bargnani added 19 points and three rebounds, although Triano wasn't satisfied with his performance. "His game isn't where it needs to be," he said.
Here's what happened at the Air Canada Centre.
Starters: Guards Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan, along with Bargnani, Reggie Evans, and Linas Kleiza in the front court.
Bench: First off the bench were Jarrett Jack at point guard and Sonny Weems, who subbed for Kleiza. DeRozan and Barbosa split minutes, while David Andersen (17 minutes) and Amir Johnson (16 minutes) also saw the court.
The opponent: The Bull's poor heath in the low post was a boon for the Raptors. Centre-forward Joakim Noah sat out with the flu, while their star acquisition, power-forward Carlos Boozer, is still nursing a broken right hand. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 22 points and six rebounds. Star point guard Derrick Rose added 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
What's next: The Raptors (3-4) play their last preseason game in Montreal at the Bell Centre. They'll face the New York Knicks (3-4). They also face the Knicks at home in the NBA season opener on Oct. 27.
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