Bulls head north to visit Raptors

(SportsNetwork.com) – Derrick Rose may be thinking of the future, but the
Chicago Bulls are playing for the present and face a tough challenge Thursday
against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

Rose said recently he’s thinking long term after his playing career and
doesn’t want to experience side effects down the road because of his rap sheet
of injuries. Rose, of course, has been plagued by health issues the past few
seasons and is just getting over two sprained ankles.

The former NBA MVP missed two straight games before playing over 30 minutes
and scoring 24 points in Monday’s 102-91 win against the Detroit Pistons. Rose
handed out seven assists and made 9-of-20 shots from the field, helping the
Bulls to a 6-2 record on the season and their fifth win in six games.

Pau Gasol had 17 points and 15 rebounds, Jimmy Butler posted 19 points and
Joakim Noah filled the box score with 13 points, 14 boards and six assists.

It was the first time this season that Chicago had its five starters on the
court at the same time.

“It was great to have everyone,” said Gasol. “I hope we can keep it that way.”

The Bulls scored 100 points for the sixth time and are averaging 104.0 points
per game. Chicago ranked first in the NBA in scoring defense last season,
limiting opponents to 91.8 ppg., and is giving up 98.4 in 2014-15.

Chicago is 4-0 on the road and will host Indiana after this trip north of the
border. The Bulls will then start a seven-game road trip out west before
returning east for the final two games of the jaunt. The last time the Bulls
started 5-0 on the road was 1996-97, when the squad won its first six games
away from the United Center.

Toronto is 5-0 at home this season and is riding a five-game winning streak
into Thursday’s matchup with Chicago.

Arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference right now, the Raptors lead
the NBA with 107.0 points per game and handed the Orlando Magic a 104-100 loss
on Tuesday at Air Canada Centre.

Kyle Lowry had his usual contributions from all angles and finished with 19
points, seven assists and six rebounds. Terrence Ross scored 17 points, DeMar
DeRozan had 16 and Lou Williams posted 14 points off the bench for the
Raptors, whose 7-1 start is the best in franchise history.

The Raptors struggled through the first three quarters until posting a 32-17
advantage in the final period when it counted most. They erased an 11-point
deficit in the fourth for their ninth consecutive victory over the Magic.

“Orlando scrapped and they outplayed us for three quarters,” said Raptors head
coach Dwane Casey. “I liked the resolve of our team.”

Toronto is 3-0 on a seven-game homestand and the only one-loss team in the

DeRozan needs four points to tie Andrea Bargnani (6,561) for third place on
the Raptors’ all-time scoring list, while Casey has an opportunity to tie
Lenny Wilkens (113) for second on the team’s all-time coaching wins list. Sam
Mitchell is first with 156 victories.

Toronto and Chicago split four games last season, and tonight’s showdown will
feature talented guard play. Also, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas have
their work cut out against Gasol and Noah inside.