Rap­tors roll over Bulls en­ter­ing break


Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - FRANK ZICARELLI fzi­carelli@post­media.com

About the only thing bro­ken with the Toronto Rap­tors as they hit the all-star break is at small for­ward.

For now and for the im­me­di­ate future, they can live with it, but down the road when the stakes are con­sid­er­ably higher, some tough de­ci­sions will have to be made.

It wasn’t much of a con­cern Wed­nes­day night, as the Rap­tors took down Chicago 122-98. Toronto (41-16) en­ters the all-star break rid­ing a seven-game win streak, a sea­son high for the club.

Toronto took over in the sec­ond quar­ter and car­ried that mo­men­tum into the third, dom­i­nat­ing the Bulls in im­pres­sive fashion.

The Rap­tors don’t play un­til next Fri­day and sit atop the East with no signs of slow­ing down.

Be­cause this was the fi­nal game be­fore the break, even if it came on the heels of a win a night ear­lier against Mi­ami, head coach Dwane Casey rode his starters more, al­ter­ing his ro­ta­tion.

It was the right move, as the start­ing unit im­posed its will in the third.

Toronto led by as many as 26 points. The Rap­tors were loose, play­ing freely and com­fort­ably once they over­came a shaky stretch to end the open­ing quar­ter, the only sus­tained pe­riod when Chicago played better than its vis­i­tors.

After one quar­ter, Chicago was lead­ing 33-27. Toronto’s bench would re­store a slim lead in the sec­ond quar­ter. Cor­ner threes by CJ Miles and Illi­nois na­tive Fred Van Vleet came off good move­ment.

Serge Ibaka was hav­ing his way off the drib­ble, scor­ing with ease know­ing no shot-blocker was present in the paint. At the break, Toronto led 61-49. Clearly, though, while small for­ward is an is­sue for the Rap­tors, the team’s back­court isn’t.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan took turns dom­i­nat­ing the game in the third quar­ter, the two un­stop­pable as Toronto built an 18-point ad­van­tage and never looked back.

Fred VanVleet

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