|Raptors will be on guard vs. visiting Bulls|
The Toronto Raptors are learning not to take any game or any opponent for granted.
After losing 115-114 to the Charlotte Hornets Sunday on a buzzer-beating midcourt prayer hoisted by Jeremy Lamb, the Raptors will try to show just how well they have learned that lesson Tuesday when they host the Chicago Bulls.
"The sense of urgency defensively, at times, we were not that committed to the game plan," Raptors center Marc Gasol said after the loss Sunday.
The Bulls might have played one of their worst games of the season Saturday when they fell to the Utah Jazz, 114-83.
"When you dig a 36-point hole or whatever it was, it's pretty hard to come back,'' Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen said.
The Raptors have lost two consecutive home games for the second time this season, including a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
The Raptors had Kyle Lowry back from an ankle injury Sunday and he scored seven points and added six assists.
"We didn't play well enough," Lowry said after the loss on Sunday. "Energy in the second quarter and third quarter, just didn't play well enough. They hit a lot of 3s, we weren't sharp tonight."
Giving up 3-pointers has been a problem for the Raptors recently.
"Teams are making shots, but if they get that extra second, they are getting good looks, they are confident knowing where the ball is going to go," Lowry said. "We need to move a little bit faster, I guess, kind of dictate where we want them to go and where we want the ball to go a little bit better."
"Yeah, two games in a row we've tried to go at the star player and get the ball out of his hands and kind of succeeded with that and kind of put the onus on the secondary guys to beat us," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "Two games in a row where they made a whole lot of shots and kind of have to pick your poison, we picked our poison and it didn't work out."
The Raptors occupy the second-seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls are out of the playoff race and are dealing with injuries.
Otto Porter Jr. (shoulder) and Zach LaVine (thigh, patellar tendinitis) did not play again Saturday.
Wendell Carter Jr. (thumb) and Chandler Hutchison (foot) were officially shut down for the remainder of the season.
Bulls coach Jim Boylen disputed the notion that his team might play for lottery-pick positioning.
"That's not what we think is going to help this franchise the most," Boylen said. "We're trying to build a competitive spirit, a team that's going to honor Bulls across their chest and play for the city. We don't feel shutting people down is a way to build that. I understand the fans. I understand that part of it. I was in Houston when we got Yao (Ming), so I get it.
"But we feel for this group of guys that we're going to keep pushing us to compete and play for each other and honor the principles we're trying to establish. So that's it. I know that's disappointing to some, but that's what we're doing."
The Raptors have won the first two meetings between the teams this season -- 122-83 in Chicago on Nov. 17 and 95-89 on Dec. 30 in Toronto.
--Field Level Media