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Bulls move into tie for 8th seed in stampede over Raptors

Apr 11, 2010, 5:53 PM EDT

Wow, the Toronto Raptors fans really showed up today. Too bad their team didn’t.

The Bulls crushed the Raptors in Toronto today to claim sole possession of the 8th playoff seed in the East, 104-88. If ever there was a game that showcased the weakness of the Raptors and the relative strength of the Bulls, this was it.

All the telltale features were there. The Raptors played horrific defense, often a product of their breakneck pace, letting the Bulls respond to each score with one of their own. Andrea Bargnani only collected five rebounds. But the big twist? The Bulls guards.

Derrick Rose dropping 26 and 7 isn’t surprising. With Chris Bosh out, he’s the best talent on the floor. But Flip Murray adding 10 and the Bulls holding Jose Calderon to 7 points is big, even if Jarret Jack dropped 14. From there, it was the Bulls’ bigs doing work, establishing control of the boards and getting buckets off of poor rotations.

A prime example? In transition, Rose fed Noah deep in the post. Andrea Bargnani was slow to get back in transition, leaving Jose Calderon to try and stop Noah. As Noah turned on Calderon, with Bargnani getting back into position to at least contest an attempt, Amir Johnson foolishly overreacted and leapt to intercept Noah…which of course left a wide open passing lane for Noah to dump off to Amir’s man, Taj Gibson for an easy slam.

Your 2009-2010 Toronto Raptors!

The Bulls face a Celtics team with little to play for Tuesday, though they may try to avoid Cleveland in Round Two if Atlanta trips up against Milwaukee Monday night. The Raptors get Detroit and New York, so a decidedly easier path. But they’re still now officially needing help to make the postseason, and they’ll do so without Chris Bosh, without whom they have not won.

Two teams, one spot. The Bulls made a statement tonight that they wanted it.

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