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DeRozan, Bargnani score 24 points each to lead Raptors to win over Bulls

TORONTO — James Johnson earned a little payback against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

TORONTO — James Johnson earned a little payback against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

Johnson had nine points, five rebounds and three blocked shots against his former team, helping the Raptors capture a 118-113 win over the Bulls at the Air Canada Centre.

"Yeah, it felt good," Johnson said. "But I didn't want to let it all to my head.

"It is an opportunity of a lifetime but this is what I've been working for. The little things I was doing in Chicago when I wasn't playing paid off."

Toronto acquired Johnson from Chicago on Tuesday for a 2011 first-round draft pick. And Raptors head coach Jay Triano wasted little time getting Johnson involved, inserting him into the starting because of his familiarity with the Bulls.

"I thought from the opening tip he brought an aggressiveness that we wanted him to bring and want him to have," Triano said. "He knows how to play the game. He's basically running blind out there on the offensive end, that's something that will come around."

DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani led the way offensively for Toronto, scoring 24 points each. And the Raptors would need it all to overcome a dominating fourth quarter by Bulls guard Derrick Rose who scored 19 of his 32 points in the final period.

Toronto selected DeRozan with its first-round selection in 2009 but president and GM Bryan Colangelo said Johnson would have been their pick had DeRozan not been available. Johnson went 16th overall to Chicago.

"He didn't know the plays or anything," DeRozan said of his new teammate. "He just went out there and played with energy and you could definitely tell on the defensive end, getting blocks, hustle plays, everything and that's where he helped us."

Added Amir Johnson: "He's another big body. He can come in and rebound and help block shots. It's good to have James in the paint. He came up big for us tonight and was definitely a big help."

It was a close game despite Toronto (16-42) shooting 58 per cent from the floor — but was 0-for-5 in three pointers — while Chicago (38-17) shot 44 per cent. And Jose Calderon, who scored six points, had 17 assists, two shy of Chicago's total assists for the game as the Raptors had 29 assists overall.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau didn't mince words when asked what disappointed him most about his team's play defensively.

"What didn't? Every aspect," he said. "Start with defensive transition, keeping the ball out of the paint, challenging shots, every aspect of defence went out the window."

Added Rose: "Miscommunication and a lack of energy at that end. We all know that we can't play like that."

Johnson added 17 points and five rebounds for Toronto while Leandro Barbosa added 13 points off the bench, including nine in the fourth, while Sonny Weems had 12 points.

Weems was on the bench because Johnson started.

"I figure he knew this team better than anybody else," Triano said. "He has practised and played against Luol Deng every single day in practice and he has had to guard (Kyle) Korver.

"We just thought, you know what, if you play against these guys every day we are going to throw you out there and we want to see what you can do anyway. Better than easing into a game, sitting on the bench and thinking too much. This way you just get out there and play."

Carlos Boozer added 24 points for Chicago and Deng scored 19.

The Bulls led 29-25 after the first and 58-55 at the half but the Raptors held an 85-81 advantage heading into the fourth.

DeRozan hit two free throws with 49.3 seconds left in the game to give Toronto a 113-111 lead. Johnson made a layup with 16.9 seconds left after Rose missed a 20-foot jumper. Weems made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left to clinch the game.

NOTES — Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless became the first player in team history to score 10 or more points in a game without making a field goal in Tuesday's loss at Charlotte. Bayless made 11-of-12 free throws against the Bobcats. He also had 10 assists for his second career double-double in that game. Bayless picked up what Triano termed a "lower body injury" in the game but will continue to play. ...Bulls centre Joakim Noah played his first game since Dec. 15, also against Toronto, after undergoing surgery on his right hand Dec. 16. He had seven points and 16 rebounds. ...Attendance at Air Canada Centre was 18,105. ... Toronto is home to Phoenix on Friday.

 
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