By Colin Mieczkowski
After a great victory against the Westchester Knicks on Friday, the Windy City Bulls dropped a heartbreaker to the Raptors 905, 102-100. Two huge free throws from Fred VanFleet, would seal the deal for the Raptors 905 to move on to 14-7 on the season.
VanFleet also led both teams in scoring, dropping 23 points, and dishing out seven assists. Axel Toupane, last year’s Most Improved Player in the D-League, added 21 points to compliment the offensive attack.
As for the Bulls, it was Alfonzo Mickinnie who carried the load, scoring 22 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. He was also red hot from the land of threes, going 3-4 from long range, showing off his stretch big capabilities.
Paul Zipser also had a solid all-around night, with 15 points, five assists and five boards, to go along with two made three pointers. Zipser, the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in 2016, has taken advantage of his opportunities with the Windy City squad, and has proven to be a valuable outside shooter as well.
Off the bench, Wesley Saunders and Jon Octeus both played very well, scoring seven and six points respectively. Saunders also added four dimes (assists) to go along with his scoring.
As for Octeus, there was no doubt that he couldn’t wait for his chance to come in the game and take advantage. During practice before the game against the Knicks on Friday, Octeus was putting on a dunking clinic, soaring through the air, and showing no regard for the basket.
Coming off the bench cold is tough, especially since the Bulls have had some good point guards play for them this season. Spencer Dinwiddie, Jerian Grant a couple of times, and now Thomas Walkup who is solid passer and defender.
When I had the chance to chat briefly with Octeus before the start of the season, I had asked the young point guard, what are some of the differences of playing in college as opposed to the D-League.
“You’re pro now, and you got to approach it like a pro” Octeus said. “You don’t have to worry about school which is big because you can focus more on your craft”.
There’s no doubt he has been focusing on his craft and handling everything like a true professional. Players like him and Saunders could play some big roles in the coming games if they continue to play well off the bench.
For the record, during that same interview, when I asked him about what it meant to play in Chicago Bulls organization with such a rich history, he had a fun response.
“It’s exciting” Octeus said. “We talk about Jordan and Pippen, but for me, Dwyane Wade is my favorite player”.
Octeus is from Miami, which is a major reason why he is such a fan of the Chicago Bulls’ new acquisition. But bench play is just as crucial as starter play, and it was a fun moment for Saunders and Octeus.
Unfortunately, the W went into the wrong hands, as once again, the Windy City Bulls lost to the Raptors 905 to fall to 7-12 on the season. Next home game will be against one of the D-League’s best, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Jan. 27.
You can listen to that game live, and all other home games as well as read up about the team, on the official radio home of Windy City Bulls basketball, SportsTownChicago.com.