by: Japheth Bandi
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls put up 66 first-half points and never looked back in a one-sided 114-102 rout of the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night (Friday morning RP time) at the United Center.
Back in his fifth game since missing the last 11 due to Covid protocols, Zach Lavine made up for lost time and sizzled with 24 points. He sank 8-of-15 from the field, 3-of-7 from downtown, and 5-of-6 from the stripe.
"Winning is important to him. I think he is figuring out the mental side of what goes with that," Bulls head coach Billy Donovon said after LaVine's all-around effort improved Chicago's record to 30-40 with two more left in their 72-game schedule.
LaVine was not a one-man show. Plenty of Bulls showed up.
Nikola Vucevic who was acquired via a trade with the Orlando Magic last March. recorded 16 points and 16 rebounds while
Koby White showed his potential as the Bulls' future in the point guard position, finishing with 17 points and 10 assists. Lauri Markannen came off the bench with 20 points on six made 3s while Thaddeus Young and rookie Patrick Williams combined for 19.
With their top six players out of the lineup, Stanley Johnson led the Raptors with 37 but Toronto shot just 40 of 90 overall (44 percent) and trailed by as many as 24 points in the third quarter.
Despite their much needed victory, their fourth in five games, the road to the playoffs remained bleak for the Bulls.
With their 32-38 card they are ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference. To qualify for the play-in tournament, they need to win their last two assignments and hope that the 10th place Washington Wizards, also 32-38 but owns the series tiebreaker, will lose two in a row.
That is unlikely to happen as Washington plays at home tomorrow against the 22-48 Cleveland Cavaliers who have lost 11 of their last 12 contests.
But taking care of business at home gave the Bulls a fighting chance.
"We don't control our own destiny, but we live another day, so to speak. It's out of our hands and I thought it was important that we show up and do our job as best we can," Donovon said.
FASTBREAK. A crowd of 3.395, 16 percent of arena capacity ad the most allowed by city of Chicago health officials, were on hand to witness the Bulls-Raptors tiff.
Among those in attendance were a father and son tandem who came all the way from Taiwan to see their favorite player, Zach Lavine.