Bulls storm back from 19-point deficit in play-in tournament, eliminate Raptors from playoff contention


The Toronto Raptors were up 19 points in the third quarter and coasting to a win. Instead, their season is over.

The Chicago Bulls registered a 109-105 comeback victory in the play-in tournament.

The Raptors were down three with 17.9 ticks remaining, and Pascal Siakam was fouled on a 3-pointer.

But he missed two of three free throws. And after Toronto fouled Nikola Vucevic, Vucevic hit two free throws to put Chicago up four. Toronto missed its final two shots, and its season ended.

Fred VanVleet’s halftime buzzer beater put the Raptors up by 11 and gave Toronto all the momentum. It carried that into the second half with an 8-0 run to lead by as many as 19, the Raptors’ largest of the night. Chicago managed to cut the deficit to as little as eight thanks to 17 third-quarter points from Zach LaVine, and it was an 81-72 Raptor lead entering the fourth.

After starting the game hitting just two of their first 17 3-pointers, the Bulls hit five of their next seven during their comeback. The Bulls made 10 of 13 field goals attempts in the fourth quarter, taking a 3-point lead with 5:07 to go.

Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls during a game against the Toronto Raptors in the 2023 play-in tournament April 12, 2023, at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. 

VanVleet tied the game at 100 with a 3-pointer with 3:10 to go to pause the Bulls’ run, but only temporarily.

The team exchanged buckets for the final minutes of the game, with Chicago pulling away thanks to its hot shooting and poor free throw shooting by the Raptors.

Toronto was just 18-for-36 from the foul line.

LaVine scored 30 of his 39 points in the second half. 

Chicago shot an even 50% (21-for-42) from the floor in the second half, while DeRozan dropped 23 points against his former team.

Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls drives against the Toronto Raptors during the 2023 play-in tournament April 12, 2023, at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.  

Chicago has a date with the Miami Heat in South Beach Friday. The winner of that game will head to Milwaukee to face the top-seeded Bucks as the No. 8 seed. The loser goes home.

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