Mar 25, 9:40 PM EDT

Jimmy Butler scores 23 points as Bulls beat Raptors for fifth straight time, 116-103


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AP Photo/Frank Gunn

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TORONTO (AP) -- Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, Pau Gasol had 18 and the Chicago Bulls beat Toronto 116-103 on Wednesday night for their fifth consecutive victory against the Raptors.

Tony Snell scored 17 points as the Bulls moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Raptors for third in the Eastern Conference. Aaron Brooks had 16 points, and Nikola Mirotic finished with 15.

Toronto has dropped three of four. It hasn't defeated Chicago since Dec. 31, 2013.

Greivis Vasquez had 22 points for the Raptors, and DeMar DeRozan scored 20. Vasquez also matched a career high with six 3-pointers.

Making his second straight start after missing 11 games with a sprained left elbow, Butler was 7 for 8 from the field and 7 for 9 at the free-throw line. The All-Star guard also had five rebounds and three assists.

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry rested for the third time in four games with a sore back. Lowry returned to the lineup against Detroit on Tuesday after a two-game absence, but left early in the second quarter and didn't return.

Chicago (44-29) took its first lead since the opening quarter on a layup by Mirotic with 5:47 left, but DeRozan tied it with a pair of free throws.

The Bulls went in front to stay with a 7-0 run. Gasol made a layup, Brooks drained a pull-up 3 and Butler hit two from the line as Chicago opened a 104-97 edge with 3:42 remaining.

Chicago outscored Toronto 39-21 in the fourth as the Raptors missed 12 of 18 shots. The Bulls have won four of five.

Ross scored 12 points in the first and Vasquez made three of Toronto's five 3-pointers as the Raptors led 29-20 after one.

Brooks made two of Chicago's five 3-pointers in the second as the Bulls cut the gap to 54-50 at halftime.

Toronto led 71-60 on a basket by Ross in the third, but Chicago answered with an 11-2 run, led by five points from Butler. Butler had 10 points in the quarter, but Toronto carried an 82-77 edge into the fourth.

TIP-INS

Bulls: C Joakim Noah returned after sitting out Monday's win over Charlotte with general soreness. He had nine points, five rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes. ... F Doug McDermott (back) was not available.

Raptors: Chicago is one of two Eastern Conference opponents the Raptors have not beaten this season. Charlotte is the other. Toronto faces the Hornets twice more before the end of the season. ... Coach Dwane Casey said he regretted not calling a timeout in the final seconds of Tuesday's loss at Detroit, allowing the Raptors to set up a play. Toronto lost when Lou Williams' long 3 bounced off the rim.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Host Knicks on Saturday night.

Raptors: Host Lakers on Friday night.

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