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Reply To: NBA • Friday Service Plays • 2/19/16

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Preview: Toronto At Chicago

When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, February 19, 2016
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

The Toronto Raptors have lost seven straight games against Chicago and seek to halt the skid when they visit the Bulls on Friday. Toronto, which has the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, hasn’t defeated Chicago since recording an 85-79 road victory Dec. 31, 2013.

The Bulls fell 106-95 to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday for their fifth straight loss and seventh in eight games. “We’ve just got to stay together through the good, the bad and the ugly – and it’s the ugly right now,” Chicago point guard Derrick Rose said afterward. “I’m going to keep controlling what I can control. We’re trying to fight to be in the playoffs.” The Raptors won 14 of their last 16 games prior to the All-Star break and being one of the best teams in the league is new ground for the franchise. “I think this time around we haven’t let our success, winning games, any of that, get to our heads,” All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan told reporters. “We still feel like we have a long way to go. This time around it feels like we haven’t done anything.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TSN (Toronto), CSN Chicago

ABOUT THE RAPTORS (35-17): Toronto didn’t make a move prior to Thursday’s trading deadline, which sends a signal that the organization feels it can compete with the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers should the teams square off in a playoff series. “That’s a strong statement to our players: We believe in them, this is what we’re going into battle with,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters after Thursday’s practice. “Our charge is to every day get better, whether it’s passing, footwork, whatever it is, something small. Get better.” Small forward DeMarre Carroll is nearing a return from early January knee surgery and the Raptors view him as the extra contributor they are currently lacking.

ABOUT THE BULLS (27-26): All-Star center Pau Gasol was shopped prior to Thursday’s trading deadline but Chicago didn’t find a match and Gasol will finish the season with the Bulls. Gasol is a free agent after the season and he reiterated after Thursday’s game that he is open to re-signing with the club. “I was surprised there was so much noise about it,” Gasol told reporters. “The positive is hearing that a lot of teams are interested in my services. The negative is the uncertainty and waiting for your team to pull the trigger. If they didn’t trade me, the assumption is they would like to keep me. I assume that’s their mindset.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Bulls won both meetings this season, including a 115-113 victory in Toronto on Jan. 3 when now-injured SG Jimmy Butler (knee) scored 40 of his 42 points in the second half.

2. Toronto has won 23 consecutive games when holding opponents to fewer than 100 points, the second-best streak in franchise history.

3. Chicago traded backup PG Kirk Hinrich to the Atlanta Hawks for G Justin Holiday and a second-round pick.

PREDICTION: Raptors 106, Bulls 103