LaVine helps Bulls top Raptors despite a career-high 35 from Johnson

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

CHICAGO — Zach LaVine scored 24 points, Lauri Markkanen added 20 and the Chicago Bulls beat the short-handed Toronto Raptors 114-102 on Thursday night.

The Bulls pulled within two games of idle Washington with two remaining for 10th place in the Eastern Conference and the final play-in spot. Chicago led by 24 in the third quarter, with the Raptors holding out their best players, and came away with the win despite a big effort by Stanley Johnson.

LaVine, coming off a 41-point in Tuesday’s loss to Brooklyn, scored 16 in the second half.

Markkanen made six 3-pointers — one shy of his season high.

Coby White had 17 points and 10 assists. Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 16 rebounds to help the Bulls win for the fourth time in five games.

Johnson led Toronto with a career-high 35 points. The sixth-year pro nailed six 3s and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Rookie Jalen Harris scored a personal-best 17. Malachi Flynn added 16 points. But Toronto lost for the eighth time in nine games.

Considering the Raptors were missing their top six scorers, with Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher injured or resting, this one went about as expected.

It was 48-39 when Thaddeus Young scored on a put-back with about 7 1/2 remaining in the first half, kicking off a nine-point spurt. White punctuated it with fast-break dunk on Johnson, drawing a roar from the crowd.

The Bulls led 66-47 at the half and got it up to 24 in the third before Toronto pulled within 12 entering the fourth.

A 3-pointer by Johnson made it 103-92 with just under six minutes remaining. But Markkanen answered with one of his own and White scored on a floater.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Coach Nick Nurse said it “remains to be seen” if Siakam, VanVleet, Lowry and Anunoby will play again this season. … Johnson’s previous high was 26 points for Detroit in a win over Cleveland on Jan. 30, 2018. … Harris’ previous best was 16 points in a loss to Memphis on Saturday.

Bulls: The Bulls were without C Daniel Theis (strained right hip) and F Troy Brown Jr. (sprained left ankle).

UP NEXT

Raptors: Visit Dallas on Friday.

Bulls: Visit Brooklyn on Saturday.

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