It was a game the Toronto Raptors Summer League squad had won in the first quarter and but for a 15 point fourth quarter from Doug “McBuckets” McDermott combined with some horrendous Raptors turnovers and missed free throws, the Bulls wouldn’t have pulled this game out of the fire. There was some genuine intensity on the court for a Summer League game as the Bulls hung on 84-80 at the end to advance in the tournament portion of the event.
It didn’t start out well for Chicago. Shooting 3-15 in the opening quarter, the Bulls quickly found themselves down 27-12. Turning the ball over 5 times and getting out rebounded 17-8, it didn’t look the Bulls were ready to play. The Raptors scored 4 points off their 5 steals led by Bruno Caboclo with 9 points on 4-5 shooting from the field. Everything was going Toronto’s way at this point.
Things started to even out in the second quarter, Chicago only turned the ball over once and made 7-20 shots, not exactly great shooting, but the Raptors were worse at 4-14, so the Bulls cut slightly into the lead 19-17. Rebounding was still an issue, but at 14-10, at least Toronto wasn’t getting everything anymore.
The Raptors came out of the break ice-cold and after hitting a three, the Bulls went on a 13-5 run to close to within 5 points of Toronto. Neither team was shooting the ball well, but the Raptors were shooting themselves in the foot from the free throw as they bricked 5 of their 8 attempts. The 5 turnovers turning into 4 extra points for the Bulls didn’t help the Raptors cause either.
Despite the Bulls closing the gap to 60-52 after three quarters, there was nothing to suggest this game was in any doubt. By this time both teams were playing poorly. The Bulls shooting 30 percent from the field and the Raptors down to 37 percent after their hot start in the opening frame. Just like in their first meeting, Toronto was holding McDermott in check as McBuckets was 5-15 from the field for 13 points. The difference this time was the Raptors freshly-signed to his initial NBA contract shooting guard Norman Powell was having trouble finishing for the first time in Vegas. Powell had 15 points, but the 59.5 percent shooter over the first 3 games was 5-14 at this point and to the Raptors dismay, it wasn’t going to get any better.
McDermott started the fourth quarter like he had something to play for. The consistent hustle and effort that was missing early was there from the start of the period and lasted through to the end. McDermott didn’t come off the court again and led his team back shooting 6-10 for 15 points as the Bulls outscored Toronto 32-20, shooting 50 percent from the field and overcoming an 11-7 rebounding deficit.
The Raptors found the range as well in the fourth, shooting 7-16, although Powell stayed cold going 0-2. As well as McDermott was playing, the Raptors handed this victory to Chicago with 7 turnovers that the Bulls turned into 16 fourth quarter points. They were quite simply getting out hustled with the game on the line.
McDermott finished with a game-high 28 points on 11-25 shooting and a team-high 8 rebounds. The only other Bulls player to crack double-figures in scoring was Diante Garrett off the bench with 11 points. He also had a game-high (tied) 4 assists. Big man Cameron Bairstow had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Chicago lost the rebounding battle 56-41, but won the turnover war with 10 turnovers giving up just 7 points to the Raptors 19 turnovers that the Bulls capitalized on for 23 points. Neither team shot over 39 percent for the game.
Bruno Caboclo and Norman Powell led Toronto with 15 points each, but Caboclo shot 4-7 from the field while Powell struggled going 5-16. Lucas Nogueira was the Raptors most effective player and recorded a double-double with 11 points, a game-high 16 rebounds and a game-high (tied) 4 assists to go with his 3 blocked shots and a steal.
Ronald Roberts, who is expected to get a training camp invite from Toronto, had 9 points and 13 boards, but he was part of the problem at the free throw line going 1-6, all in the second half. Caboclo (6-7) and Nogueira (5-6) looked good at the charity stripe at 11-13, but the rest of the team was an abysmal 11-21 and that, as much as the turnovers, cost Toronto the game.
With the win Chicago moves on in the tournament and Toronto is relegated to a final match on Friday.
The Raptors coaching staff will be very pleased with what was accomplished during Summer League. Toronto’s focus was on rebounding and defense and over the four games they averaged +9 on the glass and were only outrebounded once, 39-37. Also, opponents averaged 34.5 percent shooting against Toronto and no team shot better than 37.1 percent. This is the theme the Raptors will be taking into training camp.
As Raptors GM Masai Ujiri seems to be the process of looking for training camp invitees that will likely end up with Raptors 905 in Mississauga, maybe he should take a look at Brady Heslip? After all, those defensive specialists the Raptors have been lining up could use a really challenging offensive player to work against and the Raptors new D-League team will need someone that can score.