The Bulls blew the Toronto Raptors out of their own building Wednesday night, shooting a season-high 61% to turn a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit into a 13-point road victory and complete a season sweep of the Raptors.
The incredible shooting was the Bulls’ best since November 2nd, 2012 (63.8%) and was the catalyst for them overcoming a sluggish, low-energy opening three quarters as they capped their night with a 39-21 fourth quarter explosion.
Chicago could barely miss a shot in the final period, opening it 13-17 from the field and finishing the quarter 15-20 to shred the Raptors’ slumping defense to ribbons.
No particular Bull led things emphatically in the fourth quarter as seven Bulls scored 4 or more in the frame, though Nikola Mirotic’s 15 points on 6-11 shooting included more of the kind of plays that have recently seen him ghost up on the field for Rookie of the Year as his offense carried the Bulls early and helped kill the game as a contest late.
Jimmy Butler played his second game back from injury and looked back to his All-Star best, posting 23 points on 7-8 shooting, hitting a pair of threes and going 7-9 at the free-throw line. Pau Gasol had 18 points mostly early and Tony Snell had 17 points, 7 in the fourth quarter on 7-9 shooting as his confidence continues to grow.
Even Kirk Hinrich hit timely shots – his three field goals coming at crucial junctures with Toronto threatening to run into the distance in the first half or make a late comeback run were held off easily.
The Raptors had given the Bulls all the offense they could handle, especially in a first half where it felt like they were unable to miss, especially from deep – Greivis Vasquez hit four first-half triples and finished with a career-high 6 threes on 11 attempts to post 22 points to lead Toronto.
Despite Toronto shooting lights out from deep for the first 40 minutes, many of their long shots were low percentage looks that eventually stopped dropping once the Bulls defense began to bite down the stretch. The Raptors hit 9 of their first 16 threes and missed all of their final five.
The win moves the Bulls clear in third place, 1.5 games up on the Raptors as they aim to win as many as possible with the lower half of the Eastern Conference bracket too crazy to predict – the Indiana Pacers looked like the lower-seed nightmare nobody wanted to draw 10 days ago and they have now lost 7 straight and sit 10th in the standings.