Raptors 85, Bulls 79

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Center Jonas Valanciunas scored 15 points and led a strong defensive effort in the fourth quarter as the Toronto Raptors rallied to beat the Chicago Bulls 85-79 Tuesday at the United Center.
The Raptors opened the fourth quarter with a 21-4 run to take control. The Bulls shot just 16.7 percent (4-for-24) from the field in the final quarter.
Guard Kyle Lowry added 13 points and DeMar DeRozan scored 11 for Toronto, which earned its eighth win of 11 games.
With their second win at the United Center in 17 days, the Raptors (14-15) improved to 9-7 on the road this season. Toronto has never posted a winning road record during 19 seasons as a franchise.
Forward Luol Deng, back after a five-game absence caused by a sore left Achilles tendon, led Chicago with 16 points, while guard Jimmy Butler added 15.
Toronto trailed 62-57 heading into the fourth quarter. Forward Patrick Patterson followed in his own miss, which began a string of six straight made shots by the Raptors.
A 3-point pull-up by guard Greivis Vasquez put Toronto ahead 66-64. A few minutes later, Patterson hit a turnaround in the lane, boosting the advantage to 78-66 with 4:43 remaining.
Chicago closed within 80-75 when Butler poked the ball loose, then scored on a fast-break lay-in and finished a three-point play. After Deng's free throws made it 80-77 with 1:24 left, Toronto got three big defensive stops.
DeRozan and forward John Salmons combined to miss three of four free throws, keeping the Bulls alive. However, Valanciunas knocked down two at the line and DeRozan added one of two to push the Raptors' edge to 84-77.
The Bulls (12-18) matched their largest lead at 56-47 with 4:52 left in the third quarter on a short jumper by center Joakim Noah.
With Deng back in the starting lineup, Chicago got a better performance from the bench. Forwards Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy, guard D.J. Augustin and center Nazr Mohammed combined to score 25 of the team's 42 points in the first half. However, the quartet added just eight second-half points.
The Bulls were playing the second leg of back-to-back games after beating the Grizzlies in Memphis on Monday. Toronto was off since Saturday.
NOTES: Chicago F Luol Deng was back in the starting lineup after missing nine of the previous 12 games with a sore left Achilles tendon. The Bulls used a starting lineup of Deng, G Kirk Hinrich, G Jimmy Butler, F Carlos Boozer and C Joakim Noah -- the projected lineup, minus G Derrick Rose -- for just the second time this season. ... Toronto played at the United Center on Dec. 14 and beat the Bulls 99-77, so Raptors coach Dwane Casey was expecting a tougher task Tuesday. "We have to come out and be ready for them to throw haymakers," he said at the team's shootaround. ... Officials rescinded a flagrant foul against Chicago C Nazr Mohammed in the first half after viewing the replay. Mohammad bit on a pump fake and grabbed Toronto C Jonas Valanciunas by the shoulders, spinning him to the ground.

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