Raptors look to snap 11-game skid vs. Bulls

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TORONTO — Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey feels he knows the
solution of the riddle that the Chicago Bulls have been for his
team.

The Bulls go into Tuesday’s game against the Raptors at the Air
Canada Centre having won 11 in a row against Toronto, including
twice this season.

The answer, Casey feels, is provided by the way the Raptors
dominated the Indiana Pacers 116-91 Sunday night.

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“From start to finish, I thought it was a solid contribution
offensively and defensively,” Casey said. “Set the tone
defensively from start to finish from the jump ball. That’s the
way we have to play and continue. Whatever we have to do to get
this (monkey) off our back against Chicago, they beat us 11 in
a row and that has to stop. Collectively, whatever we have to
do defensively and offensively to set the tone, we have to do
that.”

The Raptors (41-29) came close Jan. 7 when they blew a 19-point
lead and went to overtime before losing 123-118 at Chicago. The
Bulls won 105-94 on Feb. 14, also at Chicago. The game Tuesday
is the finale of the season series.

The Bulls (33-37) need to maintain their streak against the
Raptors as they try to make earn a spot in the Eastern
Conference playoffs.

They have played the past two games without Dwyane Wade, who
will miss the rest of the regular season with a fractured right
elbow.

The Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 95-86 on Saturday at the
United Center, after losing 112-107 to the Wizards in
Washington Friday.

“It’s got to be a total team effort,” coach Fred Hoiberg said.

Jimmy Butler can see progress as the team adjusts to playing
without Wade.

“It started off a little shaky,” Butler said. “But we started
to fix a lot of things in that second half (Friday). And I
think that’s the way we’re going to go moving forward. We’ve
got to keep things really simple. We can’t put too many guys in
too many places and positions on the floor, because they’re not
used to it. And it’s not their fault.”

Butler scored 23 points against Utah. Bobby Portis had a
career-high 22 and rookie Denzel Valentine scored 11 and
grabbed 12 rebounds.

Robin Lopez, who is averaging 10.3 points and 6.5 rebounds, has
averaged 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the past two games.

“I know there’s a lot on Jimmy’s shoulders,” Lopez says. “The
defense really keys in on him. I’m just trying to be a bit of a
pressure release in any way I can. A lot of the guys are doing
a great job in stepping up in that regard.”

The Raptors regained their eye for shooting 3-pointers against
the Pacers, going 12-for-27 from beyond the arc, led by four
from DeMarre Carroll.

It was the first time since March 3 at Washington that Toronto
had hit double-digits in 3-pointers, a span of seven games.

‘It’s just knowing that the ball is going to get swung,” said
DeMar DeRozan, who scored 22 points and was 1-for-2 in
3-pointers Sunday despite not playing in the fourth quarter of
the one-sided game.

“Just finding a spot and everybody being conscious of moving
the ball. If you have a good shot, look for the great shot. I
think that’s what we have been conscious of and guys being
ready to shoot.

“The key is I thought they were in the rhythm of the game, it
wasn’t forced, it was natural and that’s what we needed,” Casey
said.

Jonas Valanciunas had 11 points and 13 rebounds Sunday to
record his career-best 26th double-double of the season, which
also leads the team.

The Raptors are 23-12 at home and the Bulls are 13-22 on the
road.

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