Bulls Slay Raptors With Hughes Benched

Aaron GuestContributor IJanuary 15, 2009

It may not be redemption for the humiliating... make that horrifying... loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but it was surely a rare sight for Chicago fans this year.

The Chicago Bulls (17-22) took out the Toronto Raptors (16-24) Wednesday night in a game that reminded fans of the 2006 Bulls.

The Bulls immediately jumped on the Raptors in the first quarter, featuring good post play from Joakim Noah. Noah had eight points and three rebounds in the first quarter as he dunked the ball twice and played well in the post. He disappeared after that until the end of the game, when he made the game-saving block on Chris Bosh.

He ended up with only seventeen minutes in the game.

Meanwhile, Larry Hughes did not play a single minute this game due to coaches' decision. The result was excellent teamwork by the Bulls as they spread the ball around to the tune of 33 assists.

This, coming days after Hughes was put on the trading block for making a remark that he wanted more minutes. With the return of Hinrich, it seems that Hughes' request was not heard.

Could this be the end of Larry Hughes on the Bulls? Is he going to be traded? I hope so!

The Raptors came back in the second quarter and took a one-point lead into the half. I thought the Bulls were going to go into hiding in the second half like they have all year, but, thankfully, I was wrong.

The Bulls managed to stay with Toronto in the third quarter and were down by three going into the fourth.

The story of the game has to be Derrick Rose in the fourth quarter. Rose took over in the fourth, scoring 17 of his 25 points and finishing the night 12-of-18 shooting. He has shown he can be the Bulls' clutch player, rising to the occasion in several games this season. Derrick also managed the offense as he had 10 assists.

Rose seemed to have gotten his confidence back, at least for a game. Hopefully, in games to come, he can learn to effectively go to the rim while still running the offense.

Kirk Hinrich, in his second game back from his injury, provided good defense and veteran leadership to a team that desperately needed some. Hinrich was effective in taking multiple charges from the Raptors, which is something the Bulls could not do in previous games this season.

Kirk ended up with 12 points, nine of which came on three three-pointers, six assists, and five rebounds.

Another pleasant surprise was the play of Luol Deng. In his first start since coming off his minor injury, Deng scored 16 points and had 14 rebounds. He added four assists and managed five offensive rebounds.

Yet again, the Bulls let the opposing front court walk all over them, as Bargnani (31) and Bosh (25) combined for 56 points. They did, however, limit their rebounds to 15, which helped limit the damage enough for the Bulls to win.

Jose Calderon did not play due to a strained right hamstring, and Drew Gooden was out due to an ankle injury.