Another good team, another tough loss — and by a wide margin of defeat. The Bulls caught fire early, but fell to the Raptors in Toronto 129-102. Some observations:

It’s hard to get hotter than the Bulls were in the second quarter

These Raptors are the hottest team in the NBA right now winners of 11 straight and owners of the league’s second-rated defense.

But it was the Bulls who were on fire in the first half. The defense, of course, suffered without Kris Dunn again; the Raptors shot 52.4% from the field, 45% from three and got 27 points from their bench in the opening two periods. But credit the Bulls’ infernic 3-point shooting, especially in the second quarter, for keeping them in the game early on.

The Bulls shot 7-for-12 from 3-point range and 3-for-9 from 2-point range in the second, flipping an, at one time, nine-point first half deficit into a three-point lead (63-60) entering the break. They simply couldn’t miss.

And the contributions came from across the board. Thad Young led the way with 17 first half points; Zach LaVine chipped in 11 points and 4 assists; Ryan Arcidiacono earned all of his 13 first half minutes with three second quarter 3-pointers; Coby White and Tomas Satoransky slung four dimes, apiece; and Chandler Hutchison had 10 points and eight trips to the charity stripe.

Thad Young and Chandler Hutchison were bright spots

Let’s keep the good vibes going for one more observation. 

Young had one of his best games in a Bulls uniform in this one, scoring a season-high 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting (3-for-5 from three), adding 7 rebounds and 2 steals, too. He did pick up a technical in the third quarter and fouled out in the fourth, but it’s an encouraging outing for Young and the team regardless of whether this is a ‘trade-value-booster’ performance or a sign of what he can continue to bring in Lauri Markkanen’s absence.

Two games after posting his career high with 21 points, Hutchison finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds in this one. Hutchison is averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds on 54.3% shooting in his last 11 games, and has continued to look aggressive running off rebounds, driving and cutting. He had a career-high nine free throw attempts today.

Daniel Gafford returns, for a moment

After missing the team’s last nine games with a dislocated right thumb, Daniel Gafford returned to action tonight. But he played just nine minutes, and appeared to roll his ankle in the first quarter after taking a hard fall. He noticeably limped for a couple possessions, then left and didn’t see the floor again until garbage time.

With the rotation thin, White (12 points, four 3-pointers) and Arcidiacono played 25 and 24 minutes, respectively. Hutchison logged 28 minutes, too. One of Luke Kornet (8 points, 3-for-11) or Cristiano Felicio were on the floor pretty much at all times, but Boylen opted to go small with Hutchison at the four on multiple occasions. Denzel Valentine logged just 14 minutes, and Shaq Harrison and Adam Mokoka saw action late with the game out of reach.

The Raptors, contrarily, are one of the deeper teams in the league. They got double-digit outputs from seven players, including a career night from Terence Davis (31 points, 12-for-15 shooting). The Raptors' reserves outscored the Bulls' 66-30.

The second half played out… Predictably

Being on pace to tie the Bulls’ franchise record for 3-pointers after the first half and only leading by three felt ominous. Even more so when considering the Bulls' third quarter foibles this season.

With that as context, the second half played out about as one would expect. The Raptors sprinted out to a 10-2 run in the first three minutes of the third, won the period 35-22, the half 69-39 and the game 129-102. As the game wore on, the Bulls’ shooting cratered and the Raptors sharpened their focus. Here’s all you need to know:

  3-point shooting Opp. turnovers Points off turnovers +/-
First half 11-for-24 (45.8%) 9 11 +3
Second half 4-for-24 (16.7%) 6 5 -30

There’s not much shame in losing to this team. The Raptors have now won 11 in a row and the Bulls are enduring a brutal spat of injuries. But the familiar feeling of the defeat stings, nonetheless.

A game of streaks

One streak ends, and two others live. Zach LaVine 17 consecutive games scoring 20 or more points ended today; he had 18 on 6-for-10 shooting with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

On the flip side, the Raptors have now won 11 in a row, and 12 straight against the Bulls, dating back to February 2017. And, though it's a less scientific one, the streak of head-scratching timeouts by Jim Boylen with games out of reach marches on, as well. 

Next up: Zion (!) and the Pelicans back in Chicago on trade deadline day — Feb. 6.

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