Bulls get the win, proving “Big Three” is better than just being big

Bulls get the win, proving “Big Three” is better than just being big

The visiting Toronto Raptors have size in their starting lineup, but they don’t have the talent of a Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. That was on full display, especially in crunch time.

The Toronto starting lineup goes 6-8, 6-8, 6-7, 6-7, 6-5.

There’s no doubt that the Raptors are big.

They just don’t have a “Big Three.”

That was the difference for the Bulls on Wednesday, as their “Big Three’’ of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic not only countered that size with talent, but did so in impressive fashion.

DeRozan finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, LaVine 23 with eight rebounds and eight assists, and Vucevic finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, coming up two assists shy of a triple-double.

It was Vucevic that also provided a dagger three with 14.5 seconds left that helped the Bulls (30-17) beat the visiting team 111-105, earning a second consecutive victory and staying within a ½ game of Miami in second place in the Eastern Conference.

And while DeRozan wasn’t about to rank this performance with other ones he, LaVine and Vucevic have had, he was hoping it was the start of something special that protocols and injuries have frequently interrupted this year.

“We’re sharing it,’’ DeRozan said of their stat lines. “Take what they give us, make our teammates better, and just find our rhythm playing together. It’s been a little while since we all played together.’’

“I never think about ranking it. All of us just getting comfortable. It’s a good start. Just try and continue to build on that.’’

Meanwhile, continuing to do the dirty work for the “Big Three’’ that might not light up the box score? Rookie Ayo Dosunmu and his evolution as the team’s starting point guard with Lonzo Ball possibly missing up to two months with his scheduled knee surgery on Friday.

Dosunmu only scored seven points, but continued playing solid defense and learning how to deal with pressure from opposing teams. But while he had some growing pains, there’s a reason he was a plus-20 in the plus/minus category against the Raptors.

“I think the biggest adjustment for us is Ayo has taken over that responsibility as a starter and really from when we had been whole with certainly Lonzo and Alex [Caruso], he’d been off the ball quite a bit. I think he was slashing to the basket, got out in transition, a lot of catch-and-go drives, those kinds of things, and all of a sudden he’s got to get us in our offense.

“He’s got to grow in this and I think it will be good for him.’’

That growth was again asked of Dosunmu, as the Morgan Park High School standout was put back into the game with 7:57 left in the fourth and the Bulls grasping onto a four-point lead.

A lead that Toronto grinded down to just one thanks to that continued ball pressure.

With 3:13 left the Raptors completed the comeback, as OG Anunoby attacked the rim with a dunk. No problem for LaVine, who got the layup-and-one at the three-minute mark.

Gary Trent Jr. cut it to two with 2:03, but when he didn’t get the call on the made basket, clapped his hands in protest, picking up a second technical and the ejection.

With Trent and his 32 points in the locker room, Toronto (23-23) didn’t score again. The Bulls did, as LaVine hit the free throw for the technical and Vucevic hit the three to put the Raptors on ice.

Of course it came off the DeRozan assist.

“I don’t care how many shots he missed,’’ DeRozan said of getting the ball in Vucevic’s hands. “Every time I see him loaded up I have the utmost confidence it’s going to go in.’’

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