NBA

Lowry scores 16, Valancius adds 15 to lead Raptors past Bulls

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The Canadian Press
12/14/2013 10:57:49 PM
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CHICAGO -- Kyle Lowry believes the Toronto Raptors are built to withstand stretches like this. That's because they're a little deeper.

Lowry scored 16 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Toronto beat the Chicago Bulls 99-77 Saturday night.

DeMar DeRozan scored 15 and Amir Johnson added 14 points and eight rebounds to help the Raptors earn their second win in as many nights after dropping six of seven.

"We've got the bodies," Lowry said. "We're a deeper team."

They're a different team, too, with Rudy Gay now in Sacramento after a seven-player trade this week.

They got rid of someone who was averaging 18 points but shooting a career-low 38.8 per cent. They've won three of four without him, and they made it look rather easy against Chicago.

"Nothing to do with Rudy personally, just the fit," coach Dwane Casey said. "Rudy is a talented player, the fit is a different thing."

The Raptors led by 16 early in the third, and pulled away in the fourth after the gap dwindled to four, sending the Bulls to their 10th loss in 13 games.

Luol Deng led Chicago with 17 points and Mike Dunleavy Jr. scored 14. Joakim Noah added 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler scored 11. But it was another difficult night for the Bulls.

They shot just 36 per cent and were 6 of 18 on 3-pointers. They were also missing Kirk Hinrich, who sat out with back stiffness.

"Losing (stinks), there's no question about it," Noah said. "But it also shows true colours, who's willing to keep fighting through the adversity or who's just going to say, 'You know what, I want no part of this. I'm just going to take bad shots and just not care at all about making winning plays, playing defence, things like that."'

The Raptors led 51-41 at the half after Lowry nailed a 20-foot jumper and open 3-pointer in the closing seconds, and they scored the first six of the third quarter, with the Bulls turning it over twice and missing four shots

Johnson's jumper made it 57-41 three minutes into the quarter, but Bulls started to chip away.

Marquis Teague banked in a 3 in the closing minute of the third to make it 73-66, and D.J. Augustin hit one early in the fourth to make it a four-point game.

But a jumper by DeRozan, a layup by Tyler Hansbrough and two free throws by Greivis Vasquez quickly got it back up to 79-69.

It hasn't been an easy stretch for either team.

The Bulls saw their championship visions get crushed when they lost Derrick Rose to another knee injury. Just about every other key player has been banged up, too.

"I think a lot of it is us having guys in and out," Deng said, referring to the Bulls' struggles on offence. "We're not getting as much practice time with guys."

But Noah didn't want to go down that route.

"No excuses," he said. "I know that we're capable of a lot better than that. We can't get frustrated. Our effort has to be a lot better to play winning basketball. But it's going to come."

The Raptors seem to be coming together after experiencing some upheaval the past week.

They acquired point guard Vasquez and forwards Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes along with financial flexibility after the season in the deal that sent Gay to Sacramento. They also waived Augustin, who was signed by Chicago.

"It's gone well," Patterson said. "We want to come in with the right mentality and attitude. What we bring individually we want to incorporate in the system. I think we've done that. Moving the ball, sharing the ball, making the extra pass, averaging high assists every night, that causes everybody to have fun. No one is being selfish.

"That'll make everybody want to play tougher than before."

NOTES: Casey said Augustin could fill a need for Chicago, something he was unable to do in Toronto. "We had a gluttony," he said. "Kyle Lowry was getting a lot of minutes." Signed as a free agent in July, he appeared in 10 games this year with the Raptors and averaged 2.1 points and 1.0 assists for Toronto. ... Hinrich missed his first game this season.

Kyle Lowry (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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