January 3, 2016 10:57 pm

Butler’s 42 points powers Bulls over Raptors

Chicago Bulls' Nikola Mirotic (left) grabs a rebound over Toronto Raptor's DeMarre Carroll during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, Jan.3, 2016.


TORONTO – Jimmy Butler was apparently plotting his revenge when he was in the locker-room having his split lip stitched up.

Butler scored 40 points in the second half Sunday to break Michael Jordan’s record for points in a half by a Bull, propelling Chicago to a 115-113 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

“I was mad,” Butler said, about the first-half knock to the lip that required one stitch and left Air Canada Centre staff cleaning the blood on the floor during a timeout. “I just came out and was aggressive after that.”

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The Raptors had no answer.

“We tried everybody and everything, and couldn’t get him stopped,” coach Dwane Casey said.

READ MORE: DeRozan, Lowry lead Raptors over Hornets 104-94 to open new year

DeMar DeRozan topped Toronto (21-14) with 24 points, while Kyle Lowry added 22 points and 10 assists in the Raptors’ last home game for two weeks.

Luis Scola had 22 points, Cory Joseph finished with 13 and DeMarre Carroll added 10.

Carroll was making a layup when he split Butler’s lip.

But the Bulls guard, who had just two points in the first half, would exact his revenge. And his final field goal of the game, fittingly, was a three-pointer he launched over Carroll with 31 seconds left that gave Chicago its first lead since early in the second quarter.

“I’m not all of the way there,” said Carroll, who returned last week after missing nine games with a knee contusion. “(Butler) did what he’s supposed to do when a guy’s not all of the way there. I’ll see him again. It’s no big deal.”

Jordan’s record was 39 points in the second half versus Milwaukee in 1989.

Pau Gasol added 19 points for a Bulls team (20-12) missing star point guard Derrick Rose (hamstring injury).

The Raptors were looking for payback, winless in their previous six games against the Bulls, including a 104-97 defeat just six nights earlier in Chicago.

Sunday, they led for virtually all but the first quarter in a thrilling Eastern Conference matchup, taking an 87-81 advantage into the fourth quarter in front of a capacity crowd of 19,800 fans at the Air Canada Centre.

But the fired-up Butler was unstoppable down the stretch, and when he drilled a three in DeRozan’s face with two-and-a-half minutes to play, it pulled the Bulls to within two points.

DeRozan missed two shots in the final 18 seconds, including a three-point attempt that clanged around the rim with no time left that elicited a collective groan from fans.

DeRozan praised Butler’s “amazing” second half.

“He got hot, and we tried to contain him,” DeRozan said. “Once you’re scoring and get hot it doesn’t matter what you do from there. We just have to do a better job of getting the ball out of his hands and make someone else beat us.”

The Raptors finished the homestand 2-1, and departed for the airport Sunday night for Cleveland, where they open a five-game road trip that culminates Jan. 14 in London’s O2 Arena against the Orlando Magic.

“We could have done better,” Lowry said of the homestand. “But it’s our last home game for two weeks, and then we come back and we’ve got two straight weeks here, so we just worry about the road right now and not worry about home. I think we need to protect home a lot better.”

The Raptors aren’t back at the Air Canada Centre until Jan. 18, when they host the Brooklyn Nets.

DeRozan led the way with 10 points in a first quarter Sunday that saw the teams tied 26-26 heading into the second.

Toronto went on a 9-2 run midway through the second to take a nine-point lead. They continued to put distance on the Bulls and went into the dressing room with a 60-48 advantage, and shooting a solid 52 per cent.

Butler poured in 21 points in the third, including a pullup jumper with 32 seconds left in the frame that pulled the Bulls to within six points.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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