Raptors crush Bulls to snap 3-game slide
Fred VanVleet gets back on track with team-high 18 points
With Kawhi Leonard sitting out, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse inserted Fred VanVleet into the starting lineup Saturday night hoping it would snap the reserve guard out of a recent funk.
VanVleet scored 18 points, Danny Green added 17 and Serge Ibaka had 16 points and four blocks, sending the short-handed Raptors to a 122-83 rout of the Chicago Bulls that snapped their three-game losing streak.
Leonard, the team's leading scorer, was held out after playing 43 minutes in an overtime loss Friday night at Boston. He played in just nine games last season and has yet to appear in back-to-back games this season.
Watch highlights from the Raptors' record-setting victory:
Green went 7 for 7 from the field, including 3 of 3 on 3-pointers. VanVleet, who entered shooting just 36.1 per cent from the floor, was 7 for 11 — including 4 of 7 on 3s.
"Obviously, getting out there and getting an extended run is helpful to get a rhythm," VanVleet said. "But at the end of the day, I just have to make shots, and tonight I was able to do that."
Antonio Blakeney had 13 points and Justin Holiday and Jabari Parker each added 12 for the Bulls, who have dropped four straight.
Chicago also played without its leading scorer, Zach LaVine, who sat out with an illness. LaVine first experienced symptoms Thursday night and struggled through Friday night's game at Milwaukee.
Without him, the Bulls struggled on offence, making just 30 of 86 field goal attempts (34.9 per cent) and committing 22 turnovers.
"We didn't have a rhythm," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We had trouble executing, we allowed them to crawl up into us and there were way too many turnovers."
VanVleet had 10 first-half points on 4-for-8 shooting. Pascal Siakam also scored 10 and Green led the way with 14 as Toronto took a 57-44 halftime lead.
Watch Lowry injure his ankle:
The Bulls managed just nine points in the third quarter (on 4-for-19 shooting) as the Raptors opened an 89-56 lead entering the fourth.
VanVleet had eight points and made all three of his shots in the third.
"He really looked like his old self," Nurse said. "He's been a shell of himself lately, in all phases. Not getting the ball where he wants to go. Not shooting the 3 at a high level. In my head, he's a 45-plus shooter and he's shooting somewhere in the 20s this year.
"He just looked like a different guy out there, and that's good."
None of Toronto's starters played in the fourth, but the Raptors still managed to stretch the lead to 40 points.
"We need to do something," Chicago rookie Wendell Carter Jr. said. "Try our hardest, don't quit and play as hard as you can until the last second."