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New-look Bulls beat Raptors for best start since Michael Jordan era

New-look Bulls beat Raptors for best start since Michael Jordan era
Veteran guard Zach LaVine scored 22 points to help the Chicago Bulls beat the Toronto Raptors on Monday in Toronto. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The new-look Chicago Bulls, led by off-season acquisition DeMar DeRozan, slipped by the Toronto Raptors to improve to 4-0, their best start since the Michael Jordan era.

DeRozan scored a game-high 26 points in the 111-108 win Monday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Bulls guard Zach LaVine chipped in 22 points.

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DeRozan scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to hold off a late Raptors rally.

"I was just doing my job," DeRozan told reporters. "I just used my experience, understanding those moments and what needs to be done.

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"We got kinda stagnant and couldn't score. Those guys went on a run. It's always my job, late in the game, to close out the game, get into my spots and try to make big shots."

The Bulls' last 4-0 start came when Jordan led the team in 1996-97. Those Bulls started the season 12-0 and won 17 of their first 18. They went 69-13 in the regular season en route to the fifth of Jordan's six championships with the franchise.

Monday's game featured nine lead changes. The Bulls led by as many as 20 points. The Raptors outscored the Bulls in the paint, on fast breaks, off the bench and off turnovers. They also outrebounded the Bulls 48-28.

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DeRozan scored 11 points in the first 12 minutes, but the score was tied at 24-24 to start the second quarter. The Bulls then used an 8-0 run to take a 32-26 edge. They put together another run midway through the quarter to increase their advantage to nine points.

They ended the frame on a 7-0 run and led 61-51 at halftime. The Bulls outscored the Raptors 31-29 in the third, led by 13 points from LaVine. They led by 20 points, twice, in the frame, but the Raptors fought back to decrease the deficit to 92-80 to start the fourth.

The Raptors used a 15-2 run to cut the Bulls lead to 97-95 with 4:49 remaining. The Bulls responded with a 9-1 run to push their lead back to 10.

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Guard Fred VanVleet heated up to score eight-consecutive points for the Raptors and cut the deficit to four points with 18.4 seconds remaining. Raptors forward Scottie Barnes made a dunk with 14.4 seconds left on the next possession.

Bulls center Nikola Vucevic made one of two free throws on the other end to push the lead back to three points, but VanVleet missed a game-tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds.

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DeRozan scored a game-high 11 in the fourth quarter. Vucevic chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls. Lonzo Ball and Troy Brown Jr. scored 15 and 11 points, respectively, in the win.

Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby scored 22 points in the loss. VanVleet recorded 15 points, 17 assists and six rebounds. Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. logged 18 points and five rebounds. Center Precious Achiuwa recorded 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors.

"They had us back on our heels," Bulls coach Billy Donovan told reporters. "You knew they were going to make a run. I thought DeMar came in and really kinda settled us with the plays he made the last three or four minutes.

"There were just some bad possessions we didn't need to have. I think anytime you can win, and you can still learn, it's a good thing."

The Bulls (4-0) will host the New York Knicks (2-1) at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday at the United Center in Chicago. The Raptors (1-3) will host the Indiana Pacers (1-3) at 7:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Toronto.

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