On Tuesday morning, the Raptors and Magic agreed to a trade that would bring Serge Ibaka to Toronto.
The Raptors cut down on the turnovers in the second half after having 13 in the first, methodically got back into the game, cutting the lead to 88-80 with six minutes left, shutting off any semblance of a Bulls offense.
The second quarter started with a Doug McDermott technical foul. The Bulls went on to score 34 points in the quarter, and the (C)Raptors simply couldn't match their intensity on either end of the floor, resulting in a 58-39 lead for Chicago at the end of the first half.
Chicago scored the final six points of the first quarter to take a 24-18 lead. Norman Powell and Corey Joseph came off the bench to provide support when the Raptors looked quite lifeless and the Bulls looked well on their way to re-establishing whatever this level of success is against this particular opponent.
"We just have their number", said McDermott after the game, who had 20 points and led the team in scoring in his 32 minutes of play.
Butler, who last played February 10 and was sidelined with a right heel contusion, played 38 minutes and hit 15-of-19 free throws as the Bulls (27-29) snapped a three-game losing streak. Butler joined Michael Jordan as the only Bulls to ever do that four times in a single season.
Tuesday's performance marked the eighth time this season Butler has attempted at least 15 free throws in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information reseach.
Our models project Butler for a massive night with 25.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.7 3-pointers in 38.7 minutes for 44.6 fantasy points. DeRozan got a quick bucket on the next possession, but Jimmy Butler countered with a great pass to Doug McDermott for a tough layup with thirty seconds remaining.
Taj Gibson (14 points, four rebounds) had more than his share of dunks on the fast break, many of them aided by the pace-pushing of Rajon Rondo, who had 12 points and hit two triples, the fourth time such an occurrence happened this season.
The Chicago Bulls are limping along without the services of their two highest scorers and hope to get some of their injured players back when they try to snap a three-game slide against the visiting Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Kyle Lowry was a non-factor for about the first three quarters but finished with 22 points, while DeMar DeRozan struggled through an terrible 5-for-19 shooting night and 18 points. His 12 assists also tied a career high. The Toronto Raptors simply can not beat the Chicago Bulls.
While the stats show that the bench dominated the overall outcome of the game, one of the Bulls starters is thinking bigger picture.