DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors looked every bit the Eastern Conference’s second seed in the second half against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
DeRozan scored 26 of 35 points after halftime as Toronto overcame an early deficit to blow past Chicago, 124-115, at the United Center. The victory was the third straight and 15th in 18 contests for the Raptors, who improved to 26-10 overall.
Justin Holiday scored 26 points for Chicago, which lost its third in a row. The once-red hot Bulls (13-25) have now lost five of their last eight games.
Early on, Chicago looked primed to win as it took a 31-21 lead in the first quarter behind the hot shooting of Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen, who finished with 12 rebounds, made four of his first five shots.
But led by Delon Wright, the Raptors rallied behind a strong performance from their bench. Wright had 25 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals for Toronto, which finished with a 54-39 edge in bench scoring. Fred VanVleet also had 13 off the bench for the Raptors.
It also didn’t hurt that DeRozan, the team’s leading scorer, heated up after a slow start. DeRozan missed six of his first seven shots and only had nine points at the half. But the three-time All-Star picked up the pace in the third quarter when he made six of 10 shots and scored 18 points. DeRozan, who converted all 10 of his free-throw attempts, made three of four shots in the fourth quarter, too.
Wednesday was the third straight time the Bulls blew a game in which they appeared in control. They also surrendered late leads at Washington on Sunday and at home against Portland on Monday.
Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry scored 16 points each for Toronto. Nikola Mirotic had 20 points in the losing effort.
— Field Level Media