Bulls Surprise Raprtors, Thunder Eliminates Pelicans

The second night of the Play-In tournament brought in two games with the visitors stealing the show.

The Chicago Bulls came back after being 19 points down to beat the Toronto Raptors 109-105. The Raptors had a double-digit lead at halftime and led 66-47 in the third quarter but the Bulls did not back down. Zach LaVine was red-hot scoring 39 points to lead the Bulls, 13 of which were in the final quarter. Former Raptor DeMar DeRozan added 23 points for the Bulls and center Nikola Vucevic had a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Bulls made only 7 three-pointers on 26 attempts but shot 48.8% from the field overall.

This is a huge disappointment for the Raptors who won the NBA championship in 2019.  Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet were part of that team and had a great game which eventually was not enough for the Raptors to advance. Siakam scored 32 points and 9 rebounds shooting on 13 of 22 shooting. VanVleet added 23 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists. The Raptors failed under pressure shooting only 50% from the free throw line and missing a total of 18 shots from the stripe. Siakam was 5 of 11, Van Vleet 3 of 6 and OG Anunoby 3 of 8.

The Bulls will now go to Miami to face the Heat in the fight for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls are 3-0 against the Heat this season and definitely have the momentum. The Heat stood no chance against the Atlanta Hawks in the first game of the Play-In tournament. The winner of this game will advance to the Playoffs to go against the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round.

Bulls Surprise Raprtors, Thunder Eliminates Pelicans
Photo: Julio Cesar Rivas – Photo by Icon sport


In the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 118-123. The young squad of the head coach Mark Daigneault didn’t fail under pressure and showed a high level of maturity in the win-or-go-home game. Things didn’t start well for the Thunder with their leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dropping only 7 points in the first half, his lowest scoring one in the entire season. Gilgeous-Alexander, who is the fourth-best scorer in the league this season, finished with 32 points. He scored 6 of those in the last 29 seconds of the game to seal the deal for the Thunder. Josh Giddey had an excellent all-around performance scoring 31 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds. Luguentz Dort added 27 for OKC shooting 4 of 8 from deep.

The Pelicans were favorites in this game and finished the season as a huge disappointment. Zion Williamson’s injury proved to be the turning point of their season. Brandon Ingram scored 30 points last night, 20 of which came in the second half. Trey Murphy III added 21 and Herbert Jones 20 for the Pelicans. CJ McCollum was not up for the challenge scoring only 14 points on 5 of 15 shooting. Center Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 16 rebounds but left the game with an injury with less than 5 minutes left in the game.

The Thunder will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road in the game that will give the last Playoff participant in the Western Conference. The Wolves won the regular season series 3-1 against the Thunder.

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