Game Preview: Raptors at Bulls
Toronto Raptors (40-16) @ Chicago Bulls (20-36)
When: Wednesday, February 14th, 8 P.M. ET
Where: Air Canada Centre
Broadcast info: SN1, TSN1050
The Raptors notched a 124-115 victory against the Chicago Bulls in Chicago on January 3 thanks to a 35-point performance from DeMar DeRozan and a career-night from Delon Wright. DeRozan, fresh off a career-high 52-point performance of his own against the Milwaukee Bucks on New Year's Day, scored 18 of his 35 in the third quarter. Wright exploded off the bench, scoring 25 points to go with 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals and a blocked shot in 30 minutes of play. The two teams were close throughout, but Toronto pulled away in the fourth, outscoring Chicago 34-25 in the final frame thanks to a 16-2 run to take control. Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka added 16 points apiece for Toronto, while Justin Holiday led the Bulls with 26 points in the loss.
LEADING INTO TONIGHT'S GAME
Injury report: The Raptors injury report is clear. For the Bulls, Kris Dunn (concussion protocol) is listed as probable, while Cameron Payne (right foot) is out.
Back-to-back: Wednesday's contest will be Toronto's final game before the team breaks for All-Star weekend. It will also be the second game in a back-to-back for the Raptors, after hanging on to defeat the Heat 115-112 on Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre.
Sitting on 40 wins: DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Toronto's entire coaching staff will be heading to Los Angeles for All-Star weekend, ensuring the organization will be well represented. With the team owning a 40-16 record 56 games into the season, the team also enters All-Star break with the most wins in franchise history.
LaVine's back: In Toronto's previous three meetings with the Bulls this season, Chicago was without Zach LaVine who was recovering from ACL surgery. LaVine returned to the court on Jan 13, and he's been fantastic for the Bulls ever since. In his last five games, LaVine is averaging 24.8 points, and he dropped a season-high 35 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week.
Big third Q: Toronto was in a close game against the Miami Heat on Tuesday, before stretching the lead thanks to a domaint third quarter. The Raptors outscored the Heat 41-26 in the third, opening a 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Much of Toronto's third-quarter scoring came from DeMar DeRozan who scored 19 of his 27 in the quarter.
Needing to finish strong: Despite leading by 17 to start the fourth quarter, the Raptors were unable to secure the victory early in the final frame. Miami outscored Toronto 31-17 in a fourth quarter where Toronto shot just 23 percent from the floor. Though the Raptors held on to get the win, the team was not pleased with their close and various players spoke about the need to continue improving and playing for a full 48 minutes.