TORONTO - When the Toronto Raptors defeated the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, they had to withstand a furious fourth-quarter rally.
They used a different formula on Friday, taking the lead in the second quarter and gradually increasing it to earn a 97-88 victory before a crowd of 19,800 at Air Canada Centre.
"It was just effort on the defensive end, and that's where it all starts," said forward Amir Johnson, who led Toronto with 24 points and nine rebounds. "When we scramble, get to the shooters, close out and box out, we are so athletic. We can definitely run."
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry scored 13 points and added 11 assists for his 11th double-double of the season, a career best. His previous best for a season was 10 double-doubles. He also had nine rebounds.
"He had a solid game," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. "Defensively I thought he did a good job on (Nate) Robinson."
The Raptors (31-48) also got 23 points from Rudy Gay, 19 points from DeMar DeRozan and 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench from Quincy Acy.
Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Chicago (43-36) before fouling out with 3:49 to play. Robinson added 17 points off the bench for the Bulls while Nazr Mohammed had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Luol Deng had 10 points.
The Bulls also lost Richard Hamilton who was ejected for a flagrant foul in the third quarter.
"I thought that Carlos (Boozer) getting into foul trouble hurt us," Bulls head coach Tim Thibodeau said. "When you are small like that you have to get away from some of your schemes. We have enough to get it done but we did not play well enough."
The Raptors had not played since Tuesday while the Bulls defeated the New York Knicks in overtime on Thursday.
"That's the nature of the league. What happened yesterday has no bearing on today," Thibodeau said. "We started the game well but in the second quarter we struggled a bit. We got behind the eight ball. It was a combination of soft defense and turning the ball over. We still had the opportunity to get back into it but we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times."
"Chicago played (Thursday) night and their game went into overtime," Casey said. "We wanted to run a fast tempo game. Our guys did a good job of running the floor and not turning the ball over."
"No excuses, they made shots, we didn't," Mohammed said.
"We just didn't play well tonight for whatever reason," said Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich who had three points and none assist. "Everybody plays 82 (games), so you can't blame it on the schedule. We just didn't play well."
Toronto led by eight going into the fourth quarter but Marco Belinelli's layup after a missed Toronto shot cut the lead to three with 9:40 to play.
But when Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 5:55 left, the Raptors led 85-76. Deng hit a 3-pointer with 4:18 to play to cut the lead to six. But when Gay hit a 3-pointer off a fast break with 2:17 to play, the Raptors had a 95-84 lead.
The Raptors took a four-point lead into the second half. They maintained that lead as Boozer picked up his fourth foul of the game only one and a half minutes into the third quarter.
With Boozer on the bench because of foul trouble, Toronto ran out to a 10-point lead after Lowry's fadeaway jumper with 6:58 left in the quarter.
Hamilton was ejected from the game for a flagrant foul on DeRozan with 5:33 to play.
"I don't know, he just hit me," DeRozan said. "There isn't much I can say about it. He just threw an elbow. He caught me with a good one but that's part of the game."
After DeRozan hit the two free throws and Gay hit a reverse layup Toronto's lead reached 13 points. Jimmy Butler and Robinson hit 3-pointers to bring the Bulls to within four points with two minutes to play but the Raptors came back to lead 73-65 at the end of the quarter.
The Raptors led 47-43 at the half with DeRozan leading the way with 11 points and Gay adding 10. The Bulls led 22-20 after the first quarter with Boozer scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds.
NOTES: Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas did not play Friday because of a flexion extension injury of his neck, picked up in the final seconds of Toronto's victory in Chicago on Tuesday. Aaron Gray started at center. ... Guard Terrence Ross (sprained left ankle) also did not play for Toronto. ... The Bulls were without forward Taj Gibson (left knee) and center Joakim Noah (right foot). They had been listed as day to day. "They're better but not playing," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. ... The Bulls outscored the Raptors 30-20 in the fourth quarter Tuesday but Toronto held on for the 101-98 win. ... Both teams play their next game Sunday with the Raptors home to the Brooklyn Nets and the Bulls visiting the Miami Heat. ... The Bulls ended the Heat's 27-game winning streak with a 101-97 decision on March 27 and they ended the New York Knicks' 13-game winning streak 118-111 in overtime Thursday to become the first NBA team to end two winning streaks of 13 or more games in the same season since the 1990-91 Phoenix Suns.