Bulls beat Toronto to lead in Playoff Race

TORONTO, ON— The Chicago Bulls defeated the Toronto Raptors on the road on Sunday evening – bumping Toronto from the 8th and final playoff spot.  Chicago won the game 104-88 behind a stellar performance by Rose (26 points, 12-of-23 shooting, 7 assists; only 1 turnover) and a nearly flawless outing from Joakim Noah.  Noah scored 18 points and had 19 rebounds.  He also had 7 assists, displaying his true all-around game on both sides of the ball tonight.  The NBA TV broadcasters joked tonight when Noah finally got his first turnover in the 4th quarter, saying it seemed like the first mistake he made all night.

Hedo Turkoglu had 8 assists in the first-half, himself, and finished with 9.  The Raptors decided to roll with Turkoglu playing a point-forward style on offense.  This was likely done to compensate to the lack-luster offense this team has now due to the absence of Chris Bosh.  Turkoglu also pulled down 19 boards, as Raptors’ coach Jay Triano actually put him on the lowblock to try to make up for the lack of rebounding that Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson were getting.  You know that when Hedo Turkoglu is the best rebounder on your team, you are in a lot of trouble.  The Bulls’ starting frontcourt of Noah and Taj Gibson dominated the Raptors on the glass (out-rebounding Bargnani and Johnson 25-7).  Turkoglu tried his best to carry the load on his shoulders in every facet, but it ended up playing right into Chicago’s hands because of the ridiculously poor shot selection of Hedo – forcing up heavily contested jumpers and long three-pointers; he finished 2-of-12 from the floor and, to add insult to injury, went 1-of-4 on free-throw attempts.

This is a huge win for the Bulls, who pushed the ball relentlessly up the floor to spark their transition offense.  This is something they may need to do more often, because this was easily one of the most dominant performances they have had this season – if not the most dominant.  Bulls’ fans should be pleased to have the one-game lead for the 8th Playoff spot, however we should not celebrate early.  The Bulls either need to win 2 games, win 1 and hope Toronto loses 1, or else hope Toronto loses both games.  Excuse the pessimism but the Bulls do face a more daunting schedule (Boston and Charlotte), while Toronto merely has to go through Detroit and New York.  I never thought I would be uttering these words but… go Knicks and Pistons.

April 10, 2010

-Rami Abboud

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