The Rundown: Bulls, Thunder eliminate Raptors, Pelicans

Published April 13, 2023, 2:00 PM ● Miguel Flores

The Bulls set up a play-in game with the Heat, while the Thunder will face off with the Timberwolves for a chance to take the eighth seed in the playoffs.


Bulls 109, Raptors 105

Thunder 123, Pelicans 118

What went down

Today was an elimination day in the liminal play-in portion of the season. Both games were intense and somehow, the road teams from both conferences came out with the win. 

Out East, the Chicago Bulls rallied in the fourth quarter behind their two superstars to outlast the Toronto Raptors.

In what has to be a bittersweet feeling for Raptors fans, they got to watch former franchise player DeMar DeRozan have another signature moment in Toronto as he finished with 23 points and seven boards.

The Bulls needed to rally from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter. They got there with a big performance from DeRozan and Zach LaVine (more on him later), both of whom have had their ups and downs this season. Now, they move on to face the struggling Miami Heat in Florida on Saturday for the eighth and final seed in the East.

This is an apt conclusion for a Raptors team that had a disappointing season overall. Some players’ performances took a tumble like Scottie Barnes and Fred VanVleet, while others had their momentum cut by injuries like OG Anunoby. Still the Raptors were able to reach the play-in phase thanks to a big season from Pascal Siakam, who ended his second All-Star level campaign with a 32-point outing.

In the West, the OKC Thunder outdueled Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans in New Orleans.

In the fourth quarter, neither team took a lead larger than four points until the final minute. The Pelicans had Ingram making plays with Jonas Valanciunas dominating the boards while the Thunder hitched their wagon to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. New Orleans absorbed a big blow with around four minutes to go when Valanciunas had to sit due to an apparent ankle injury.

What ensued was an exchange of isolations and bigtime plays. SGA seemingly put the nail in the coffin with the play above. But Ingram somehow kept the Pelicans in the game.

In the end, OKC was just too clutch for the Pelicans. SGA finished with 29 points while Giddey cobbled together 31 points, nine boards and 10 assists. They move on to face the Timberwolves at Minnesota on Saturday for the eighth seed in the West.

New Orleans, despite having Ingram out for half the season and Zion Williamson only available for a quarter of the season, somehow still made it to this point of the season. They enter the offseason with big decisions to make regarding personnel, most importantly Williamson’s extension.

Big-time baller

Zach LaVine has been the picture of inconsistency this season, but he came up big for the Bulls today. He dropped 39 points, most of which came in their crucial fourth quarter run that erased an 18-point Toronto lead.

LaVine didn’t even make the All-Star team this season. He started slow due to a nagging injury and only started picking his game up in recent months. Chicago is going to need more of this from their franchise player as they head to Miami to face the Heat and Jimmy Butler.

What he said

Spencer Dinwiddie hopped on a radio show yesterday and expounded on his take on his former team, the Washington Wizards and Kyle Kuzma. After being called out, Kuzma gave us a thread this morning with his response to Dinwiddie.

Did you see that?

The real MVP of Chicago’s win was Diar DeRozan, DeMar’s daughter. She went viral for trying to distract Raptors players during free throws.

It worked! The Raptors went 18-for-36 from the line with some crucial whiffs in the fourth quarter.