Raptors-Bulls Preview

The Associated Press

While the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls are enduring a rough stretch, they're hoping a thrilling win will propel them going forward.

The new-look Toronto Raptors also found a way to get it done their last time out.

The Bulls try to make it two in a row for the first time in nearly a month Saturday night against the visiting Raptors.

Chicago (9-12) had been limited to an average of 75.7 points during a three-game skid before winning 91-90 at Milwaukee on Friday. Joakim Noah led the way with season highs of 21 points and 18 rebounds and Mike Dunleavy banked in a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds left.

"You could see his rhythm coming offensively," coach Tom Thibodeau said of Noah. "Defensively, he's been terrific from the start of the season but offensively, you can see his timing is back."

Jimmy Butler added 16 points in his first game back since missing 11 with a toe injury. The Bulls, who went 2-9 during Butler's absence, have won six straight when he takes the court.

"I felt all right," said Butler, averaging a team-leading 1.9 steals. "Rusty. Out of shape. Terrible. But I'm glad my guys pulled this win out."

While the Bulls are glad to have Butler back, leading scorer Luol Deng (19.4 points per game) missed his fourth consecutive contest due to a sore left Achilles and is uncertain to be available Saturday. Chicago also continues to play without Derrick Rose, who is out for the year with a torn meniscus.

The Bulls, who haven't posted back-to-back victories since a five-game winning streak Nov. 8-18, have taken nine of 12 from the Raptors. Deng and Noah combined for 37 points and 18 rebounds in a 96-80 win at Toronto on Nov. 15.

The Raptors (8-13), though, are seeking a third win in four games after beating Philadelphia 108-100 on Friday. DeMar DeRozan had 27 points and Terrence Ross scored 24 - two shy of his career high - while making his second consecutive start.

"Talk about bouncy athletes," 76ers coach Brett Brown said of Ross and DeRozan. "They're hard guards, they're really difficult people to defend."

Kyle Lowry dished out 11 of the team's season high-tying 24 assists while Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas combined for 29 points and 25 boards.

Greivis Vasquez, acquired from Sacramento this week as part of the Rudy Gay trade, scored 12 in 17 minutes off the bench in his Raptors debut.

"It's always good when you come to a new place and you get a win," Vasquez said. "We still have a long way to go. I still have to get the timing and get to know my guys' tendencies and all that stuff, but I'm exited.

"If we keep doing what we did tonight, we're going to be really hard to guard and we're going to win a lot of games."

Fellow newcomers John Salmons and Patrick Patterson also debuted, finishing with a combined eight points on 2-of-8 shooting.

"I like what I saw, and going forward they're going to mix in quite well," coach Dwane Casey said.

DeRozan, who matched a career high with 37 points against the Bulls last month, is averaging 22.8 and shooting 50.7 percent in his last eight games in the series.

The Raptors are 8-4 when holding opponents to 100 points or fewer. Chicago ranks 28th in the league with 92.3 points per game.