Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors
- The Raptors have lost four consecutive games against the Bulls, including a 102-101 overtime loss in their last meeting (March 24, 2012).
- The Raptors have averaged 17.0 offensive rebounds over their last three games, after averaging 9.8 offensive rebounds over their previous 28 games.
- The Bulls are coming off a game in which they allowed just 58 points to the Atlanta Hawks -- the fewest they have allowed since Utah scored just 54 points against them in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
- Kyle Lowry came off the Raptors' bench to score 21 points in just 15 minutes last night against the Nets. The last player to score more than 21 points in 15 or fewer minutes of action was Henry James, who scored 24 points in just 10 minutes for the Hawks against the Nets on April 15, 1997.
- Carlos Boozer has recorded eight double-doubles over his last nine games. His 20 double-doubles this season have already eclipsed his total from all of last season (18).
- Taj Gibson has come off the Bulls bench and blocked multiple shots in four of his last five games, including a season-high five blocks against the Hawks Monday night.
By JORDAN GARRETSON
(AP) -- Fresh off one of the most stifling defensive performances in team history, the Chicago Bulls will look to build on that momentum with a win in a series they've dominated lately.
Chicago seeks its eighth victory in nine tries against the Raptors on Wednesday night in Toronto.
The Bulls (21-15) have won three straight and eight of 10 on the road, and they also exorcised some recent home-court demons with Monday's 97-58 win against Atlanta. Chicago had dropped three of its previous four at home, including a 97-81 loss to Phoenix on Saturday in which the Suns shot 49.3 percent from the floor.
Coach Tom Thibodeau responded by screaming at his team during an intense Monday morning shootaround. That seemed to do the trick, as the Bulls held the Hawks to a franchise-low 20 first-half points - five in the second quarter.
Chicago also set a club record for fewest points allowed in a game while limiting Atlanta to 29.3 percent shooting.
"Everybody was serious about what they needed to do," said Taj Gibson, who finished with eight points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. "Nobody said a word. Everybody was ready to go. ... We ran back hard. It was the best I've seen our defensive transition all year. We were flying back on D and getting stops. They were frustrated. It's one game. We hope we can build off it."
The Bulls used a balanced offensive attack - a necessity with point guard Derrick Rose still sidelined - as seven players registered at least eight points. Carlos Boozer led the way with 20 while Luol Deng had 18 on 7-of-9 shooting.
"We are playing short-handed," Thibodeau said. "So we have to play with great intensity all the time. You can't relax, never exhale. We have to grind and fight. We have to do it day after day."
Boozer continues to play particularly well, adding 13 rebounds against the Hawks for his eighth double-double in nine games - a span in which he's averaging 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.
His 20 double-doubles lead the Eastern Conference, and he has 10 in his last 12 games against Toronto.
After winning 10 of 13, the Raptors (14-24) have lost their last two, including Tuesday's 113-106 defeat at Brooklyn.
Already without Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas due to injuries, Toronto received another scare. Kyle Lowry was initially expected to miss the second half after spraining his ankle, but he returned to score 19 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.
"I thought I was done, but we've got a great training staff," Lowry said. "I've been hurt a lot this year and I just wanted to get back out there with my teammates, and coach trusted me that I said I was OK and he put me back in."
Coach Dwane Casey's team could be even more banged up for Wednesday's game. Casey said Jose Calderon (7.7 assists per game) had a hip pointer and Alan Anderson (11.2 ppg) needed dental work.
The Bulls won all three meetings with Toronto last season, yielding an average of 82.3 points on 40.3 percent shooting.
Updated January 16, 2013