The Bulls Tuesday gave up 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and lost in overtime to the Toronto Raptors 122-120.
It was a costly loss for the Bulls, who fell to 33-38 in their playoff quest. Toronto is 42-29 as they broke an 11-game losing streak against the Bulls.
The game was marred by a rare NBA fist fight with both Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka ejected late in the third quarter with the Bulls leading by 16 points. Both are expected to be suspended.
Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. But after the Bulls had that lead with 6:39 left, no other Bull but Butler scored the rest of the fourth quarter and overtime until Rajon Rondo scored with 10 seconds left in overtime after a steal. The Raptors outscored the Bulls 19-4 to end regulation. Rondo had 24 points, eight assists and four steals. Lopez and Paul Zipser had 12 each. DeMar DeRozan had 42 for Toronto, which outrebounded the Bulls 50-39.
The Bulls were without Dwyane Wade and Cameron Payne, the latter on D-league assignment. But it was point guard Rondo who ignited the Bulls to start the game, Rondo pushing the ball and making three pointers for a marvelous 19 first half points. Rondo’s pace and Butler’s presence were vital early as the Bulls took a quick 10-4 lead and pushed that to 21-12 before leading 31-27 after one quarter. The Bulls with 11 consecutive wins over Toronto entering the game looked like they were going to run away as Denzel Valentine and Paul Zipser threes pushed the Bulls out to a 49-33 lead and sent Toronto into a self examination time out. The Raptors pulled themselves back in the game with DeRozan, whose late three got Toronto within 59-54 at halftime. Butler had 13 in the half and seven of eight free throws.
Toronto came out going to DeRozan at rookie Zipser to offset Butler driving the ball. But then Mirotic dropped in a pair of corner threes with rapid Bulls ball movement. That gave the Bulls a 75-66 lead midway through the third quarter with a 10-0 lead in fast break points. Then came the fight and ejections of Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka after a Mirotic three gave the Bulls an 88-72 lead with 3:58 left. Lopez got pushed into Ibaka, who elbowed Lopez. They then exchanged punches and were ejected. Nikola Mirotic and Raptors assistant Jamaal Magloire got technical as they came together in the melee. The Bulls went on to lead 94-79 heading into the fourth quarter. The Bulls stayed with a 99-85 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter. Toronto kept driving back and then backup center Cristiano Felicio went out after a half fall on an attempted dunk. The Bulls were leading 104-92 at the time with 7:24 left. The Bulls got a tough three from Zipser for a 109-94 lead with 6:39 left. But the Bulls went through a tough drought of turnovers and isolation jumpers to stop the offense as the Raptors pulled within 109-103 on nine straight points with 3:51 left in the game. The Bulls drought continued to 10 empty possessions, and with 2:02 left the Raptors had drawn within 109-107. The Raptors tied the game to end a 15-0 run. Butler and DeRozan exchanged misses in the last seconds to send the game to overtime. The Raptors took their first lead of the game with 1:23 left in overtime. The Bulls were outscored after the ejections 50-32.