Raptors hand Bulls 3rd loss in a row

CHICAGO (AP) — All that DeMar DeRozan wanted to talk about was the lift Toronto’s bench provided. As for his recent scoring tear?

“I don’t think nothing of it,” he said.

DeRozan had 35 points, Delon Wright set career highs with 25 points and 13 rebounds, and the Raptors beat the Chicago Bulls 124-115 on Wednesday night.

DeRozan came up big again after scoring a franchise-record 52 points in a win over Milwaukee on New Year’s Day. He was particularly good in the third quarter this time, scoring 18 points after being held to nine in the first half. DeRozan also shot 5 of 8 on 3-pointers and converted all 10 free throws.

Wright had his first career double-double and hit four 3s to lead a big effort by the bench. He scored 12 in the second quarter and eight more points in the fourth to help Toronto pull away for its ninth win in 11 games.

Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry scored 16 apiece for Toronto. Fred VanVleet, from nearby Rockford, added 13 points, and the Raptors’ reserves outscored Chicago’s 54-39.

“They’ve been great for us all year,” DeRozan said. “We come out slacking. The bench always picks us up, and vice versa. Tonight, the bench did what they’ve been doing all year, got the energy going. We fed off that, and got back in the game.”

He’ll get no argument from coach Dwane Casey.

“The bench really saved us tonight,” he said. “They gave us energy. We just couldn’t get our mojo going with the first unit, but Delon came in and had a career high. I really liked the way he was going after rebounds. His overall game sustained us.”

Justin Holiday led Chicago with 26 points, and Lauri Markkanen added 22 points and 12 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic scored 20, but the Bulls dropped their third straight.

The Bulls looked sharp early on, with a 10-point lead after the first quarter. But they couldn’t sustain their edge on defense and were impatient on offense — particularly the second unit.

“We were coming out and jacking up contested shots with zero or one pass,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “And you can’t have that. So again, that second unit’s been pretty darn good for us. Tonight, we struggled with it.”