TORONTO — Greivis Vasquez poured in 22 points on Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Toronto Raptors past the Chicago Bulls in a 116-103 loss.
Toronto would have officially clinched a playoff spot with a victory, but it wasn’t to be on a night the Raptors fell apart down the stretch. The Raptors clinched their second-consecutive playoff berth later in the night, thanks the Boston Celtics’ loss to Miami.
Jimmy Butler topped the Bulls (44-29) with 23 points, while Aaron Brooks added 16.
DeMar DeRozan added 20 points for Toronto (42-30), who were playing without injured all-star Kyle Lowry (sore back). Lou Williams added 18 points, while Terrence Ross finished with 16, and Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 12 rebounds.
On a night that Lowry sat on the bench alongside the coaches dressed in a charcoal suit, a special cushion propping up his sore back, Vasquez filled in admirably, drilling his sixth three-pointer about two minutes into the fourth quarter that put the Raptors up by five points.
Vasquez would shoot 6-for-11 from three-point range.
But the Bulls, who’d beaten Toronto three times already this season, fought back with a 18-5 run, capped by a two free throws by Butler with 3:42 to play that put Chicago up by 104-97. Nikola Mirotic drilled a three and Butler added a basket to put the visitors up by eight with two minutes to play.
A three by Brooks with 1:32 on the clock all but sealed Toronto’s fate as fans started to head for the exits.
The Raptors allowed Chicago to shoot 61 per cent on the night, including 52 from three-point range. The Raptors shot a decent 47 per cent, and outrebounded Chicago 35-31.
Ross led the way with 12 points in the first quarter, launching a 24-footer that gave the Raptors a 13-point lead. Toronto took a 29-20 advantage into the second.
The Bulls began the second with an 8-2 run to pull within three points. The Raptors took a 54-50 lead into the locker-room at halftime.
The Raptors assembled an 11-point lead in the third, punctuated by a Ross turnaround hook shot. But the Bulls battled back to cut Toronto’s lead to 82-77 with one quarter left.
The Raptors have 10 games left of the regular season. They host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday followed by the Houston Rockets on Monday.