Two days after winning their first game of the season, the Chicago Bulls hope they have put their disappointing start behind them.
Chicago hosts the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, looking to build some momentum before beginning its longest road trip of the season.
The Bulls (1-4) went 49-33 last year - their best record since the Michael Jordan years - but it took more than a week before Chicago recorded its first win of the new season. The Bulls snapped their early-season losing streak on Thursday, beating the Detroit Pistons 97-93.
“I thought we came out and played harder than we had all season,” Chicago forward Tyrus Thomas said. “We played better, obviously. It was a good win for us.”
Thomas had 19 points and 14 rebounds, Luol Deng added 17 points and the Bulls’ bench contributed 31 points - led by 13 from Joe Smith. Chicago outrebounded Detroit, 47-36 and held a 42-26 edge in points in the paint.
“This was more our type of basketball tonight,” said Kirk Hinrich, who had 14 assists. “That’s a quality win. Hopefully it will be a momentum builder. We’ve got a big game here on Saturday, so it’d be nice to get something going before heading out West.”
Chicago is especially eager to put the 0-4 start behind it as it begins a difficult stretch next week when they open a six-game road trip against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday. After four games against Western Conference opponents, Chicago travels east to visit New York and Toronto before returning home Nov. 27 to take on the Atlanta Hawks in its only other home game this month.
“It was definitely a burden,” guard Ben Gordon said of the losing streak. “Hopefully getting a win against a good team like Detroit will give us some confidence.”
Like the Bulls, the Raptors (3-3) have also had some difficulty carrying over last year’s success into the new season. After a 2-0 start, the defending Atlantic Division champs lost their next three straight, but snapped the losing streak on Friday with a 105-103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Chris Bosh had 24 points and 10 rebounds while Anthony Parker added 22 and six. Bosh also made a key play on the defensive end when he blocked a potential tying layup from Andre Miller with five seconds left.
Bosh was 16-of-18 at the line, including three free throws in the final 20 seconds after Philadelphia had cut the lead to one point. Bosh is 48-of-52 (92.3 percent) from the line in six games, while going 26-of-66 (39.3 percent) from the field.
“My percentage from the field isn’t good right now,” Bosh said. “If I’m wide open, I’m going to take the jump shot. If not, I’ll go to the basket and try and draw the foul. I have confidence in my free throw shooting.”
With his team coming in mired in the losing streak, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell replaced the inconsistent Andrea Bargnani in the lineup with Rasho Nesterovic. Nesterovic was scoreless in 12 minutes while Bargnani had nine points.
Chicago and Toronto split their four meetings last season, with each team winning once on the road. The Bulls have won eight of their last nine home games against the Raptors.