Dec 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer (5) is defended by Toronto Raptors power forward Amir Johnson (15) during the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Raps 99 @ Bulls 77 - Who needs training camp?

The Toronto Raptors faced a Chicago Bulls team desperate for some wins, so much so that they brought Luol Deng back from the injured list early. Their starting lineup didn’t include Kirk Hinrich, scratched due to a bad back, and replaced by Marcus Teague. Toronto’s revamped lineup, including quality minutes from three fresh faces, allowed Chicago to hang around for 3 quarters. However, in crunch time it was Toronto which found the winning edge on both ends of the floor, as a tight game became a laugher.

Dec 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard D.J. Augustin (14) drives the ball past Toronto Raptors point guard Greivis Vasquez (21) during the second half at the United Center. The Toronto Raptors defeated the Chicago Bulls 99-77. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto was able to win Quarters 1 and 2 despite a disappointing shooting effort from Terrence Ross, who made just one basket in nine tries. He did contribute with 5 boards. Kyle Lowry rediscovered his shot, and scored 12 points while dishing out 3 dimes. Patrick Patterson will quickly become a fan favourite should he continue to display his sharp stroke from distance. He didn’t miss a shot while scoring 10 points, including 2 3-balls. One can understand the Bulls’ low scores recently, given how many layups were butchered by their big men. The Raps went to intermission with a 10-point bulge.

D.J. Augustin, now a Bull, showed nothing as a shooter, although 5 assists in the half was an accurate reflection of his synchronicity with his new teammates.

The third quarter started well for the Raps, who stretched their lead to 16 before enduring one of their all-too-frequent scoring lulls. Even the sluggish Bulls offense had enough moxie to draw within 7, then to 4 when Augustin hit from beyond the arc as Q4 was underway. Chicago then hit the wall; perhaps the fatigue of 4 games in 5 nights caught up to them. They scored one point over the last 5:23 of the game, while Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas were draining short buckets in the paint. Greivis Vasquez looked like he’s been a Rap since the summer, as he dished out 6 assists, several of them to Amir. I sense the second coming of Calderon-to-Johnson. Patterson ended with 12 points, and plus-11. John Salmons chipped in with 7 points. We like these new guys, a lot.

JV had his second consecutive double-double, and blocked 4 shots. He was victimized by more shabby refereeing; he gets called for 2 phantom loose-ball fouls a game, to my eyes. On this night, it didn’t matter – the Raps were good enough for 3 quarters, and excellent at the end.

The Raptors come home to take on the resurgent Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday.

Putbacks: For the second straight game, the Raps never trailed…our other bench guys played the game’s final minute…Vasquez and Lowry played together in Q4 as coach Casey looked to defend the lead…the Bulls fans were so quiet, they might have been at church…Raps had 26 assists, and only 11 turnovers…TRoss was the only Rap starter to be minus…the Maple Leafs surprised the ‘Hawks 7-3, completing the Toronto-defeats-Chicago doubleheader

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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