It was 30 games ago, also in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, where Joakim Noah played his last game for the Bulls. But Joakim seemed like he was eager to make up for lost time in his return for the Bulls against the Raptors on Wednesday night. Noah had a first quarter career-high 10 rebounds in just his first eight minutes of play—mostly coming upon missed offensive tips.
The Bulls were also going up against the recently-traded James Johnson who started for the Raptors in his debut with the team. He played well with two blocks and an alley-oop dunk in the first half.
But it was Andrea Bargnani making life difficult for the Bulls by scoring 15 points in the first two quarters. Toronto shot 58% in this time frame to the Bulls’ 43%. But it was Ronnie Brewer who gave the Bulls a spark by coming up with three steals and six points in the matter of about one minute of playing time. This helped the Bulls to a 58-55 halftime lead despite the porous defense.
The second half was a series of Raptors’ runs followed by the Bulls closing the gap each time. But Toronto executed each time off of seemingly every time out.
Derrick Rose tried to keep the Bulls in the game by scoring 16 points in the final quarter, but his efforts fell short. In bitter irony, it was the returning Joakim Noah who sealed the loss for the Bulls by throwing the ball out-of-bounds trying to feed the inbounder, Derrick Rose. And then former-Bull James Johnson who sealed the 118-113 win for Toronto at the free throw line.
The defense was horrible. The rotations were bad. Taj Gibson had a nightmare game on offense—even getting a dunk attempt rejected by Leandro Barbosa of all people. Carlos Boozer blew some key defensive assignments that more than likely cost them the game tonight. Add the Raptors bench destroyed the Bulls by piling on 38 points.
It will take time for the Bulls to re-acclimate now that Joakim Noah is back in the line-up. He did have seven points and 16 rebounds. Rose added 32 points and 10 assists.
Chicago has their work cut out for them as they look ahead to the Miami Heat tomorrow night in the United Center.