TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors are one victory away from their longest winning streak in franchise history.
Terence Davis scored a career-high 31 points to lift the Raptors to a 129-102 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, stretching their league-best win streak to a franchise-tying 11 games.
A victory Wednesday over the Indiana Pacers, the only team Toronto has faced in a 10-game stretch with a winning record, would clinch the record.
Pascal Siakam had 17 points, while Serge Ibaka chipped in with 16 for the Raptors (36-14), who had seven players in double figures. Chris Boucher had 15 points, Kyle Lowry finished with 14, Fred VanVleet had 12, while Patrick McCaw scored 10.
The Raptors were missing Norm Powell, who broke a finger in the fourth quarter Friday at Detroit, Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle).
Thaddeus Young led Chicago (19-33) with 21 points.
Davis’s previous scoring high was 23 points. The Raptors rookie, who wasn’t named to the Rising Stars game as part of NBA All-Star Weekend, had six three-pointers as part of a sizzling 12-for-15 shooting night.
The Raptors couldn’t put any significant distance on a pesky Bulls squad until the fourth quarter. The Raptors went into the final 12 minutes up 95-85, their biggest lead to that point. McCaw’s three-pointer four minutes into the quarter capped a 16-5 run by a group of Raptor reserves that had the home team up by 21 points.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse stayed with his bench group through the game’s final few minutes. When Davis drilled a three-pointer with 4:26 to play, giving Toronto a 25-point, he was mobbed by teammates when he headed to the bench for a timeout.
VanVleet provided one of the highlights of the night, when his slick crossover dribble put Tomas Satoransky on his backside. VanVleet scored on a three on the play, and the Raptors bench erupted in celebration — Oshae Brissett made like his ankles had been broken, collapsing into the arms of Malcolm Miller.
The Raptors won 11 consecutive games twice before: Feb. 26 to March 16, 2018 and Jan. 6-30, 2016. Sunday marked their 12th consecutive victory over the Bulls, including two games earlier this season.
The Raptors are second in the Eastern Conference and boast the league’s third-best record despite being decimated by the injury bug all season — 13 players have missed time for an array of injuries.
Powell’s injury is bad timing. Criticized in the past for his inconsistency, Powell had been the best basketball of his career, averaging career highs in both points (15.3) and rebounds (3.9). Nurse joked that Powell won’t be permitted to play in Detroit again — he injured his shoulder there in December.
Nurse said Hollis-Jefferson, who’s missed four games with a sprained ankle, could return Wednesday. But Nurse said there was no update on Gasol, who aggravated his hamstring injury that had seen him previously miss a dozen games. The veteran big man has missed 15 games with the injury.
Siakam led the way with eight points in the first quarter, and his turnaround jumper midway through the frame had the Raptors up by nine. The Bulls went on an 18-4 run, but the Raptors responded with 11-3 run to close the quarter, and led 33-29 to start the second.
The Bulls got hot from beyond the arc, connecting on seven of their three-point attempts in the second quarter. The lead changed hands five times in the period, and Chicago took a 63-60 advantage into the halftime break.
Notes: Nurse was cheering for Kansas City over San Francisco in Sunday’s Super Bowl. “I grew up three-and-a-half hours north of Kansas City (in Carroll, Iowa), spent some time there. Not a Kansas City fan by any means but today I am.”
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press