Raptors roll over Bulls in home opener
This time, there was no 35-point performance from Zach LaVine or Lauri Markkanen, no rookie highlights from Coby White.
The Bulls' first two games were against teams widely projected to finish at the bottom of their respective conferences. On Saturday, they got the defending NBA champs and even without Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors can put the clamps on an inferior opponent.
This was a competitive game for a little more than a quarter, but Toronto put the Bulls on lockdown and rolled to a 108-84 on Saturday in the United Center home opener.
It was the fourth-straight win in Chicago by at least 20 points from Toronto. According to Bulls radio statistician Jeff Mangurten, that happened for the first time in franchise history. It was the Raptors' 10th straight win over the Bulls overall.
The Bulls shot 30.2 percent from the field, went 9-for-35 from 3-point range and their leading scorer was Wendell Carter Jr. with 12 points.
"I thought they out-physicaled us, they crawled into us," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. "They picked up their defense. We have to learn when the ball's not going in, we still have to guard and when the ball's not going in, we've got to move it more, not less.
"Those are the lessons in tonight. We will work on those. We've talked about them already and we will continue to grow."
Boylen pushed the teaching-moments, room-to-improve theme, because what else can he do? The Bulls can get better at a lot of things, but they certainly didn't look like a team with playoff potential in the first three games of the regular season. They head back on the road now for games at New York and Cleveland.
"I thought we had a lot of good moments," Boylen said. "We've got a young, developing team that I believe in. We're going to keep working."
Otto Porter Jr. left the floor in the second quarter after taking an elbow to the chin from Raptors forward Stanley Johnson. Porter stayed on the ground for a few minutes and eventually walked straight to the locker room. He did return to start the third quarter, but didn't help the cause.
In the locker room after the game, blood and stitches were clearly visible on the left side of Porter's mouth. He admitted he might be sore Sunday, but didn't say much else about the collision. A flagrant foul was not assessed.
"They brought the physicality to us," Porter said. "They threw the first punch. We didn't really respond well. They lost last night, national TV to Boston. You knew they were going to come with an edge."
If there was any highlight for the Bulls, it might have been Denzel Valentine and second-round pick Daniel Gafford making their season debuts during garbage time. Valentine hit a 3-pointer.
Or maybe it was the end of the first quarter when Ryan Arcidiacono caught a White airball and finished a reverse lay in at the buzzer to bring the Bulls within 24-23. White hit just 3 of 14 shots for 8 points in his third NBA game. Zach LaVine finished with 11 points, while Lauri Markkanen scored 9.
The Raptors (2-1) had a balanced offense, led by Pascal Siakam with 19 points, Serge Ibaka with 18 and OG Anunoby with 17. They also had a balanced defense, giving up 23 points or less in all four quarters.
"I was on those championship teams that come into a place for their home opener and they take a lot of pride in kind of spoiling that," Boylen said. "I thought we hung in there and then they pulled away."