Toronto’s young stars are helping to lead the Raptors back to respectability.
The Raptors look to build on their recent string of success and earn their first win over Chicago in four years when they host the Bulls.
Toronto beat the Charlotte Bobcats 111-103 on Saturday night, improving to 3-2 since a 1-15 start. Chris Bosh, in his third year with the Raptors, scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds for his 12th double-double.
Bosh is averaging a team-best 22.1 points, more than five points better than his career-high set last season (16.8). Bosh is also averaging 39 minutes per game, two more than last season.
“Chris Bosh carried us,” said teammate Morris Peterson, who played in his 299th consecutive game, the longest current streak in the NBA. “He played like an All-Star tonight.”
Toronto’s roster includes seven players who had played two or fewer seasons in the NBA coming into this campaign. The Raptors are tied with Atlanta for the fewest wins in the league, and trail the Hawks by one half-game in the standings.
Along with their victory over the 5-17 Bobcats, the Raptors have defeated Atlanta and 9-11 New Jersey in their last five games.
Toronto has lost nine straight to Chicago since a 103-89 win Dec. 6, 2002.
Former Purdue coach Gene Keady spent his first game on the Toronto bench Saturday Mitchell’s new assistant.
“If he wants me to get a cup of coffee for him, I will,” said Keady, who spent 25 seasons at Purdue before retiring in March. “I’m here to be a couple of extra eyes and give suggestions. Him turning down my suggestions won’t hurt my feelings.”
The Bulls are coming off their fifth loss in eight games, a 100-97 defeat Tuesday to the Miami Heat. Kirk Hinrich scored 26 points and Darius Songalia added a season-high 19 for the Bulls, who could not prevent Pat Riley’s second tenure as coach of the Heat get off to a successful start.
Ben Gordon added nine points in 25 minutes after missing two games with a sprained right knee.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 13): Bulls - 5th place, 6 GB, Central Division. Raptors - 5th place, 6 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Bulls - Deng, 15.1 ppg; Chandler, 8.5 rpg; Hinrich, 7.1 apg. Raptors - Bosh, 22.1 ppg and 10.0 rpg; Calderon, 6.2 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Bulls, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: April 9; Bulls, 110-97. At Chicago, Hinrich scored 25 points, who clinched their first playoff berth since the 1997-98 season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bulls - 6-5 on the road; Raptors - 1-9 at home.