TORONTO — Jimmy Butler scored all but two of his 42 points in the second half Sunday to lift the Chicago Bulls over the Toronto Raptors 115-113.
DeMar DeRozan had 24 points for the Raptors (21-14), while Kyle Lowry added 22 points and 10 assists. Luis Scola had 22 points, Cory Joseph finished with 13 and DeMarre Carroll added 10.
Pau Gasol added 19 points for a Bulls team (20-12) missing star point guard Derrick Rose (hamstring injury).
The Raptors were looking for payback, winless in their previous six games against the Bulls, including a 104-97 defeat just six nights earlier in Chicago.
Toronto led for virtually all but the first quarter in a thrilling Eastern Conference matchup Sunday, taking an 87-81 advantage into the fourth quarter in front of a capacity crowd of 19,800 fans at the Air Canada Centre.
But Butler was unstoppable down the stretch, and when he drilled a three in DeRozan’s face with two-and-a-half minutes to play, it pulled the Bulls to within two points. E’Twaun Moore’s basket with 58 seconds would tie the game, and then Butler launched a three over Carroll with 31 seconds to play to put the Bulls up by a point.
A Jonas Valanciunas dunk with five seconds left had the Raptors — who are two spots ahead of Chicago in second in the East — within two points, but DeRozan’s three-point attempt clanged around the hoop and then out, eliciting a collective groan from the fans.
The loss capped a three-game homestand for the Raptors where they went 2-1. They were set to depart later Sunday for Cleveland, where they open five-game road trip that culminates Jan. 14 in London’s O2 Arena against the Orlando Magic.
DeRozan led the way with 10 points in a first quarter that saw the teams combine for 8-for-10 from three-point range. They went into the second tied 26-26.
Toronto went on a 9-2 run midway through the second capped by a DeRozan driving layup that gave the home team a nine-point lead. They continued to put distance on the Bulls and went into the dressing room with a 60-48 advantage, and shooting a solid 52 per cent.
Butler poured in 21 points in the third, including a pullup jumper with 32 seconds left in the frame that pulled the Bulls to within six points with one quarter left.
The Raptors aren’t back at the Air Canada Centre until Jan. 18, when they host the Brooklyn Nets.