To Dwane Casey’s way of thinking the Chicago Bulls’ fourth quarter dissection of his Toronto Raptors during Wednesday’s 94-82 victory over Toronto was a textbook example of how championship-calibre teams respond when prodded.
The Raptors had played surprisingly well against the Bulls over the first three quarters of the game and carried a 69-62 lead into the fourth quarter of the game at the Air Canada Centre.
But the team with the National Basketball Association’s best record responded by burying Toronto in the fourth quarter, erupting on a 20-0 run that turned the game in Chicago’s favour.
“In those situations when you know a championship team is turning up the screws you’ve got to make every play,” Casey said. “There’s no negotiations in those situations.”
With the Bulls playing without star point guard Derrick Rose, who is nursing a sore groin, the Bulls turned to the likes of Kyle Korver and John Lucas to improve their record to an NBA best 39-10.
Toronto’s record dipped to 15-32 with the loss.
Both players came off the bench and Lucas would finish with 13 points and Korver added 10 – all totalled in the decisive fourth quarter where the Bulls outscored Toronto 32-13 to win the game going away.
Casey said it is no accident that the Bulls have the best record in the league.
“They did it when they had to,” he said.
Casey is now having to deal with another injury situation.
Just after point guard Jose Calderon rejoined the team after recovering from a sore ankle, the status of guard Jerryd Bayless is now questionable after he aggravated a sore hip.
Bayless suffered a hip pointer during Tuesday’s game in New York against the Knicks.
He tried to play through it against the Bulls but lasted only about 90 seconds in the first quarter before he was pulled from the game.
It is not yet known if Bayless will be ready to play for Toronto’s next game, Friday night against the New York Knicks.
Casey said he is not overly concerned about the ongoing offensive struggles of power forward Andrea Bargnani, who drained just two of his 10 shots in the game and finished with eight points.
Bargnani is still trying to regain his form after missing 20 games recovering from a strained calf muscle.
“Any time you miss 20 games or a whole month of a season, and you’re not able to do anything in practice, you’re not going to come back in the form you were before,” Casey said. “And that’s where he is and he’s trying to find it.”
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