Every now and then, the Raptors come along, shock the world and leave me thinking the future may not be all that dim after all. One of those nights was tonight, when Toronto rolled back into town off a pounding in Charlotte and clawed out a 118-113 win against Derrick Rose and the Bulls. The Raptors battled back after a slow start, grabbed a late lead and held off Chicago, even after letting what looked like a safe edge slip away with less than three minutes to go.
Toronto led 107-100 before Rose drew a pair of fouls and hit four straight free throws, and a Jose Calderon turnover and Rose three tied things with 1:59 remaining. DeMar DeRozan and Rose each traded four points to tie it at 111-111 with 1:05 to go, but a pair of DeRozan free throws and an Amir Johnson basket following a Rose miss was enough to put it to bed. DeRozan had 24 points, making all eight of his foul shots, and Rose finished with 32 and 11 assists, including 19 points in the fourth quarter alone.
The Raptors shot 58% from the field and scored 63 points in the second half, getting 24 from Andrea Bargnani in addition to DeRozan’s output. Jose Calderon had six points, 17 assists and three steals, Amir Johnson had 17 on 8-of-8 shooting and Leandro Barbosa scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth. James Johnson, who was acquired from the Bulls for Miami’s first round pick yesterday, got the suprise start and had nine points, five boards and three blocks against the team he woke up yesterday a member of.
Wins in February usually aren’t much to look back on when you’re on track to win less than 25 games, but one against Chicago on the tail end of a back-t0-back is a feather in the Raptors’ cap nonetheless. They’ll look for some of the momentum to carry over to Friday, when Steve Nash and VC25 come to town with the Phoenix Suns.