Amir Johnson scored 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds as the Toronto Raptors secured a 97-88 win over the visiting Chicago Bulls.
Rudy Gay responded with 23 points and five steals for the Raptors as they won their second straight and fourth in their last five outings. DeMar DeRozan accounted for 19 points, Kyle Lowry came up one rebound shy of a triple-double while tallying 13 points and a game-high 11 assists, and Quincy Acy contributed 10 points and a career-high nine boards while playing just under 35 minutes to set a new personal best in that category as well.
"It was a hard effort from everybody -- we played good defense, it was a complete effort from everybody on our team," noted Johnson as the Raptors defeated Chicago for the second time this week.
The Bulls, who are still playing without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah due to injury, were paced by Carlos Boozer's 19 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out. Nate Robinson pitched in with 17 points and six assists off the bench, Nazr Mohammed had 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and Luol Deng finished with 10 points and eight assists as the team bowed for the third time in four outings.
The lone win for the Bulls in their last four contests was Thursday's 118-111 overtime triumph over the Knicks, which snapped New York's 13-game win streak. After such an exciting matchup, Chicago may have been due for a letdown, and head coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't completely surprised by the outcome.
"That's the nature of the league," Thibodeau said. "What happened yesterday has no bearing on today, you've got to be ready to play. We got behind the eight ball. It was a combination of soft defense and turning the ball over on the open floor. Still, we had an opportunity to get back into the game, we got it down to six, and then we just shot ourselves in the foot a number of times."
Boozer scored 11 straight points for the Bulls during a three-minute span in the middle of the first quarter, finishing with 13 in the frame. Still, the Bulls led by just two points, 22-20, after 12 minutes of action.
Chicago, which didn't attempt a single 3-pointer in the first quarter, made just 2-of-8 in the second frame and finished with 21 points in the period after Boozer was held to four. The Raptors responded by converting 64.7 percent of their field goal attempts en route to 27 points for the period and a 47-43 edge at the break.
Boozer was hit with his fourth personal foul less than two minutes into the second half, and scored a mere two points after the break.
Chicago's Richard Hamilton was assessed a Flagrant Two foul for a shot that he delivered to the head of DeRozan coming off a screen in the third quarter. Hamilton scored just seven points before his ejection. After a couple of free throws by DeRozan and a layup by Johnson, Toronto moved out to a 65-52 advantage.
It was DeRozan who found himself in hot water minutes later, as he was assessed a technical foul for his interaction with Nate Robinson after the latter gave him a slight push while DeRozan was leaping to catch a pass.
That helped the Bulls put on a 13-2 scoring run to close to within four points at 69-65, though Toronto put an end to that and took a 73-65 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
The Raptors outscored Chicago 16-0 in fastbreak points through 36 minutes of action.
The visitors tried to make things interesting in the fourth quarter, particularly by limiting the Raptors to just 5-of-15 shooting from the floor. However, Toronto responded by converting 12-of-14 at the free-throw line and turning the ball over just twice in the period.
Toronto shot 27-of-33 at the charity stripe on the night, compared to just 11- of-14 for the Bulls... Chicago kept the game from getting out of hand by converting 9-of-18 behind the 3-point line, while the Raptors were only 2-of-8 on the perimeter... The teams had split their first two meetings of the season ... Chicago has three games remaining in the regular season, visiting Miami and Orlando before closing out by hosting Washington on April 17... The Raptors host Brooklyn and Boston on April 14 and 17, respectively, with a trip to Atlanta in between.