TORONTO, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Toronto Raptors ended an 11-game winless streak against Chicago Bulls with a 122-120 overtime victory in Tuesday night NBA action.
With the win, Raptors improve to 42-29 on the season and guarantee a winning record for a franchise-record fourth consecutive season. The team also captures their first victory against Chicago since Dec. 31, 2013, ending their longest active losing streak against an opponent.
In front of a sold out Air Canada Centre crowd, Toronto's win did not look like a likely outcome. The team trailed by 16 points in the third quarter before an altercation took place between Raptors forward Serge Ibaka and Bulls center Robin Lopez at the 3:58 mark for throwing punches at one another after a Chicago three-point basket.
While both players were ejected for fighting, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey believes the bench-clearing event helped fire up his squad and mount their league-best 18th double-digit comeback of the season.
"I thought it got us going. We needed something to get us going," said Casey following the victory. "You don't ever want to see a fight to get you going, but I like the emotions. We need that to get ourselves going at the beginning of the game," he added.
Trailing 94-79 at the end of the third quarter, Casey's squad stepped up their defense, holding Chicago to four points in the final 6:39 of the fourth frame to outscore Bulls 34-19 in the period to force overtime.
"That's the way we got to play. We can't come and play like we did in the first few quarters," Casey said. "Here's a team that kicked our butts for the last eleven games and I was disappointed in the way we started the game and ecstatic about how we finished the game," he continued.
Despite pushing the game to an extra frame, Raptors had yet to take a lead in the game. At the 1:23 mark of overtime, Raptors took their first lead with a DeMar DeRozan jump shot and maintained it for a two-point victory.
DeRozan played a team-high 44 minutes and was one short from a career-high with 42 points on a franchise-best 38 field goal attempts. The three-time All-Star also dished out 8 assists and grabbed 7 rebounds. The eight-year veteran has been around during all eleven losses against Chicago and is relieved to end the streak that had lasted more than three years.
"To have a losing streak like that sucks and you don't want to have something leaning on you like that," he told reporters following the game. "To go a couple of seasons and not beat a team when you are a competitor, you have that in the back of your mind sucks," he continued.
With 11 games remaining on the season, Raptors currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and are half a game back of Wizards for third place, two games back of Celtics for second place, and five games away from top-seeded Cavaliers.