DeRozan ends Raptors’ season after play-in nail-biter

Apr 12, 2023 | Sports

A Toronto Raptors season full of disappointment came to an end in a dramatic fashion following a collapse to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

After leading the game for the first three quarters, the Bulls shocked the Toronto sports world by coming back from a seemingly insurmountable 19-point lead in the fourth quarter.

This was the biggest deficit a team came back from all season against the Raptors. It also marks the first time a No. 10 seed has ever beaten the ninth seeded team in the NBA’s play-in tournament.

The biggest problem for the Raptors was free-throws, missing 18 of their 36 attempts from the line. This was a season worst for the team.

Bulls guard Zach Lavine led his team with 39 points, including a dominant 30 in the second half. Former Toronto all-star DeMar DeRozan also helped with the upset victory, contributing 23 points on 10 of 19 shots.

This was a surprise for Raptors fans after the all-time leading scorer in Raptors history was limited to just 14 points per game during their matchups in the regular season.

DeRozan’s daughter also became a talking point for broadcasters in one of the stranger subplots following the game. During Raptors free-throws, she let out a high-pitched scream which could be heard from the broadcast.

Following the game, head coach Nick Nurse acknowledged the poor free-throw shooting as the biggest reason for the loss.

“We left a lot of points on the board there, for sure,” he said. “I’ve said before, if you ever miss more than 10 in a game it’s hard to win.”

Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 32 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists. However, the all-star power forward missed two crucial free-throws in the dying seconds of the game.

“We didn’t have our best fourth quarter in terms of the way that we play, we couldn’t get stops,” Siakam said. “I’ve got to be better, I can’t be five for 11 from the free-throw line.”

The Raptors head into the off-season with uncertainty, as Nurse said last week he needed time to reflect on his future with the team. This was his fifth season with the team, after winning the NBA championship during his first season in 2019.

The Raptors finished the year with 41 wins and 41 losses. This is the second time in the last three seasons the team has failed to make the playoffs.

DeRozan and the Bulls will now face another former Toronto all-star, Kyle Lowry, and the Miami Heat to determine the final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.