Despite being without Joakim Noah (flu), Kyle Korver (sore left foot), and Carlos Boozer (broken toe), the Chicago Bulls were still able to get past the Toronto Raptors 110-103 in pre-season action Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre.
The Bulls (3-4) were also short up the middle, starting rookie Omer Asik at centre, but their scorers Luol Deng and Derrick Rose managed to pick apart Toronto’s defence.
For the third straight game, the Raptors (3-4) went with their likely starting five that will begin the season next week, but it wasn’t enough to stop the speedy Chicago transition game.
Deng had a game-high 22 points, while Rose picked up 20 points and added nine assists to go with eight rebounds.
Toronto’s Leandro Barbosa played well off the bench, scoring 22 points in 30 minutes. He added energy and could contend for a spot in the starting lineup.
Barbosa showed chemistry with Jarrett Jack, who also came off the bench. Jack replaced Jose Calderon who was held scoreless while adding only three assists. Jack looked the better of the two, grabbing 12 points and six assists.
Jack produced some of the best ball movement in the first half.
Barbosa actually gave Toronto the lead at half-time, 54-50, as he hit a jump-shot and followed it with a steal and layup.
However, Chicago’s depth was the key. Bench players like Kurt Thomas, James Johnson and Brian Scalabrine outplayed Toronto’s bench in the second half.
DeMar Derozan and Linas Kleiza both had short flashes of good offensive play early, but seemed rather invisible at times in the second half. Derozan had 15 points, while Kleiza picked up 12.
Despite scoring 19 points, Andrea Bargnani continued his struggles on the defensive side of the ball, grabbing three rebounds. The Italian does not appear ready to be a starting centre in the NBA.
Reggie Evans looked more like a defensive threat the Raptors could use, snatching a game-high 16 rebounds.
He grabbed eight in just nine minutes during the first quarter. That was more than the entire Bull’s team had at that point as Toronto outrebounded Chicago 18-7 in the opening 12 minutes.
With Noah out, Toronto controlled the glass, finishing with a 45-36 edge over the Bulls.
It was a big change from a 109-90 loss to Chicago on Oct. 12, where Noah played and helped the Bulls to a 44-22 margin in rebounds.