NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, December 31st (All times Eastern)
Toronto Raptors (13-15) at Chicago Bulls (12-17), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors have played good enough basketball to lead the Atlantic Division and they hit the road Tuesday for a New Year's Eve stop in Chicago against the Bulls.
The Raps have won two straight, four of five and six of their last eight to move atop the Atlantic Division by a single game over the Boston Celtics. Yes, they're under .500, but since the Rudy Gay trade, Toronto is 6-3.
Kyle Lowry donated his second straight double-double Saturday as the Raptors rolled to a 115-100 victory over the New York Knicks to take both games of a home-and-home.
Lowry followed his 15-point, 11-assist performance in a win at Madison Square Garden on Friday with a season-high 32 points, 11 helpers and eight rebounds. Lowry has at least six assists in 20 straight games.
"Just in the locker-room, in practice, on the court, his encouragement to the young players, how you say things to young players, he's been great at that," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Lowry. "With all the trade rumors, and all the bullcrap that's going around, he's been positive and upbeat, and a leader."
Lowry was reportedly close to getting traded to the Knicks two weeks ago. The deal never happened and now Toronto is threatening the Atlantic.
Terrence Ross made a career-best seven triples and scored 23 points for the Raptors. DeMar DeRozan added 20 while Jonas Valanciunas grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Bulls collected their third win in the last four with a 95-91 road victory Monday night over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Jimmy Butler led the way for Chicago with 26 points
"I sat down with a few of the vets, and they just talked to me and told me to play my game and have fun. When you have fun, everything else takes care of itself," Butler said.
Carlos Boozer finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while D.J. Augustin chipped in 10 off the bench. Joakim Noah managed eight points, but hauled in 10 boards and blocked four shots.
The Bulls return home Tuesday night and play their next four and six of their next seven in the Windy City.
Chicago and Toronto have split this season's matchups with each winning on the other's court. Toronto is just 7-13 in its last 20 at Chicago.
12/31 10:21:54 ET