It was a game that was closer than it should’ve been, but a win is a win.
Luol Deng knocked down an 18-footer for what proved to be the game-winning basket with 3.3 seconds remaining in overtime.
Jose Calderon had good look at a three, but his shot back-rimmed and the Bulls escaped Toronto with a 107-105 victory.
Carlos Boozer’s impressive play continued as he finished with season high 36 (25 in the first half) points and 12 rebounds. The point total was his high since becoming a Bull and the performance gave him his ninth double-double in the last 10 games. Deng added 19 seven assists and six rebounds, Joakim Noah finished with a double-double and Richard Hamilton contributed 15 points.
“It’s just maturing and I’ve been in the league for awhile,” Deng said. “I know what I can and can’t do. When it comes to the last minute, I’m not as nervous or worried about what I’m going to do. There are a few things I do well and I stick to them. I just stick to my game, never get out of my character.”
Deng’s also scored a game-winning tip-in last season at home to give the Bulls an overtime win against the Raptors.
“I thought Lu made a great read,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s Lu’s strength right there. Big shot.
“Not just the last shot; he had that big three when they were right on our heels and that was a huge shot right there. The guys who have been around and have seen him play a lot, you know that’s what he does, whatever you need. You need great defense, he does that. You need a rebound in traffic, he does that. Move well without the ball, run the floor. To me, that’s who he is. That’s what makes him such a good player.”
The Bulls built a 19-point lead in the third quarter, sparked by Hamilton, who scored 13 of his total in the period, including 11 straight for a 76-57 with 4:28 remaining. Despite the output, Hamilton only played 18 minutes as Thibodeau is still keeping him at the 15-20 minute range.
The Raptors got back into the game with the help of their bench went on a 16-3 run to close the period.
The Raptors front line kept them in the game, awarding them extra possessions and Kyle Lowry’s 12 points gave his team an offensive boost. Amir Johnson’s offensive rebound off a Lowry miss with 12 seconds remaining led to Taj Gibson fouling out, but Johnson would split his trip to the line, tying the game at 100.
The Bulls had a chance to win it in regulation, but Belinelli ended up taken an off balanced jumper. The Raptors had .7 left to make a miracle happen, but fumbled on the catch to send the game into an extra period.
Lowry’s 26 and Alan Anderson’s 27 led a dominant bench effort by Toronto, whose reserves outscored Chicago’s 66-18.