Raptors take down Bulls in Chicago
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jonas Valanciunas totaled 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Toronto Raptors to an 85-79 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Kyle Lowry scored 13 points and had six assists and DeMar DeRozan added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors, who have won five of their last six. Patrick Patterson contributed 10 points and five rebounds.
"The guys in the locker room believe in each other and what we can do." said Lowry.
Luol Deng scored 16 points and Jimmy Butler finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for Chicago, which has lost six of its last nine. Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Bulls.
"These are the kinds of games you have to win if you are serious about being a playoff team."said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey.
Chicago led 62-57 to begin the fourth quarter. However, the Raptors opened the period with a 21-4 tear. Deng halted the run by making two free throws with 4:26 left on the clock, then scored on a layup to make the difference 78-70 in Toronto's favor.
Toronto was up by five when Deng knocked down a pair from the charity stripe after a foul by DeRozan to cut the lead to 80-77 with 1:24 to play.
The Bulls fouled the rest of the way and despite Toronto missing 3-of-4 on its first two trips to the line, Chicago could not respond until Kirk Hinrich netted two free throws with 14.4 seconds left.
"We have to finish strong. We can't just flip the ball up there." said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau on his team's interior shooting.
The teams traded hoops for the majority of the third quarter. Toronto cut the lead to three twice in the quarter but still trailed by five at the end of the stanza.
Two minutes into the second quarter, following a layup by the Raptors' D.J. Augustin, Chicago took the advantage. The Bulls began the second with a 16-2 outburst to jump ahead for the first time in the game.
The run stretched Chicago's lead to nine, 32-23, with 5:54 left in the half. Toronto cut the lead to three twice again but trailed 42-36 at halftime.
With the exception of two ties, Toronto led throughout the first 12 minutes and took a 21-16 edge into the second.
Joakim Noah had a game-high 16 rebounds and added six assists and seven points for the Bulls ... Amir Johnson had nine points and six rebounds and Terrance Ross contributed six points and six rebounds for Toronto ... The Raptors shot 29-for-69 from the field, while the Bulls went 30-for-82.
01/01 00:17:13 ET