Valanciunas has 21 points as Raptors hold on to beat Bulls 119-114
Chicago Bulls guard Justin Holiday (7) passes the ball as Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas (17) defends during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 7, 2017 10:17PM EST
TORONTO -- Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 10 rebounds -- and just the second three-point shot of his NBA career -- as the Toronto Raptors held on to beat the Chicago Bulls 119-114 on Tuesday.
DeMar DeRozan had 24 points for Toronto (6-4), while Kyle Lowry finished with 17 points and Serge Ibaka chipped in with 16.
Bobby Portis had 21 points to top the Bulls (2-7), while Robin Lopez had 20.
Valanciunas, who scored the first three-pointer of his five-season NBA career just last April, drilled the step-back three late in the first quarter, then calmly raised three fingers like he does it every day.
The big Lithuanian was one of eight Raptors who scored on three-pointers on the night.
The three was one of the few highlights on an otherwise largely forgettable game. The Raptors had assembled a 20-point lead before halftime against the rebuilding Bulls, who are in for a long season. They stretched it to 23 in the third quarter and led 98-81 with one quarter to play.
Ten points in four minutes from Portis -- who was playing his first of the season after serving an eight-game suspension -- pulled the Bulls back to within 13 points with 7:20 to play. A three-pointer from Kris Dunn made it a 10-point game with five minutes to play.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey subbed his starters back in, but the Bulls continued to chip away at the advantage, pulling to within three points several times in the final two minutes. A goaltending goal on a Denzel Valentine shot with 19 seconds to play made it a three-point game, but DeRozan drained two free throws to secure the win, much to the relief of the Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,800 that included Nick Hagglund and Jonathan Osorio. The Toronto FC players fired T-shirts up into the crowd during a timeout.
The Raptors shot 54 per cent on the night, and 52 per cent from three-point range.
C.J. Miles had obviously shaken the flu bug that knocked him out of Friday's game against Utah and slowed him down on Sunday, scoring back-to-back threes to give the Raptors a six-point lead late in the first quarter. Toronto went into the second up 29-26.
A Portis layup pulled the Bulls to within two early in the second, but the Raptors outscored Chicago 21-13 from that point to take a 65-45 lead into the halftime break -- the second-most halftime points Toronto has put on an opponent this season.
The Bulls are still missing Nikola Mirotic, who suffered broken bones in his face in an ugly brawl in practice with Portis prior to the season-opener, resulting in Portis's suspension.
The Raptors host New Orleans on Thursday, then head on the road for three games starting Sunday in Boston.