Toronto Raptors

Seven thoughts as the Raptors fourth quarter rally falls short against the Bulls

The Toronto Raptors' furious fourth-quarter rally fell short against the Chicago Bulls, going down 111-108 to move to 1-3 on the season.

Former Raptor DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 26 points, six assists and four rebounds, while Zach LaVine added 22 points. Chicago is now 4-0 to start to the season - the first time since 1996-97.

Fred VanVleet was pulling the strings for the Raptors, recording a career-high 17 assists to go with 15 points, while OG Anunoby led six players in double figures with 22 points.

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For more on this game, we have you covered with some thoughts below.

1. Welcome back DeMar

It was all smiles for DeMar DeRozan who made his first appearance at Scotiabank Arena in a Bulls uniform, greeting fans and former teammates ahead of tip-off...but that's where the niceties ended.

DeRozan tormented the Raptors defenders with his signature pump fakes and mid-range jumpers, knifing into the defence again and again on his way to 26 points and six assists on 7-of-19 shooting.

2. VanVleet's big night

VanVleet put the Raptors on his back tonight, whether it was coming up with big shots in crunch time, to energising the team's defence, but it was his playmaking that did the talking tonight.

He recorded a career-high 17 assists, just two shy of the franchise record (19) held by Kyle Lowry, Damon Stoudemire and Jose Calderon.

3. Defence turns the tide

Turnovers and some sloppy defence hampered the Raptors through the first three quarters and they struggled to get stops against Chicago who were in front by 12 heading into the final frame.

Once the fourth quarter arrived, they flipped the switch as Anunoby, Barnes and VanVleet swarmed the Bulls on the perimeter forcing seven Bulls turnovers, including some timely ones down the stretch.

On a Bulls inbound in the backcourt with 14.4 seconds to go, they applied the pressure which led to a miscommunication between Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic, leading to a wide-open Scottie Barnes dunk to cut it to two, but that was as close as they would get.

The blueprint for the Raptors being a solid defensive team is there this season, with the length of Anunoby, Barnes and Gary Trent Jr., allowing them to switch and cut off passing lanes with their ball pressure, but doing it four all four quarters is the key. As impressive as their effort was down the stretch, it came too late.

4. This Scottie Barnes jam

As each game passes, Scottie Barnes continues to show flashes of his offensive potential.

Early in the fourth quarter, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft spun into the lane, rolling off his defender with ease to throw down an emphatic dunk to cut the deficit to single digits, helping kick-start their late rally.

Barnes finished with 13 points on an efficient 6-of-8 from the field.

5. A better night from the bench

After mustering just a combined 13 points in Saturday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Raptors bench gave them some much-needed juice, combining for 29 points and outscoring the Bulls reserves (27).

Khem Birch was the best of the group, dropping 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while Goran Dragic chipped in eight points, four rebounds and was especially effective on both ends down the stretch.

6. Much-improved ball movement

VanVleet's career night sharing the rock led the way for the Raptors, but their commitment to making the extra pass and generate open looks was evident from the jump as they assisted on their first 10 made field goals in the first quarter.

They finished with 27 assists on 40 made field goals (67.5 percent) with VanVleet accounting for as many assists as the entire team in their previous game.

Despite their impressive ball movement, the Raptors finished the game with 21 turnovers, which the Bulls turned into 27 points. In a game they lost by three, that will be the first thing on head coach Nick Nurse's mind post-game.

7. What's next?

The Raptors are back in action on Wednesday at Scotiabank Arena as they host the 1-3 Indiana Pacers.

See you then!

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