Raptors coast to .500

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Well, it wasn't the prettiest bow to wrap a regular season, but game No. 82 came and went without injury, which really was the main goal when the night began.

The Raptors finished the regular season with a tidy, if underwhelming, 41-41 record thanks to a 107-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls, who did not earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

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The Raps now will enjoy a day off before two days of preparation for the Orlando Magic and their first-round playoff series which likely will start Sunday in Orlando.

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell had all of his starters back on the bench before the first quarter was through last night with only Jamario Moon even getting back on the court in the first half.

"We wanted to win the game, but the most important thing was not to get anyone hurt," Mitchell said.

Every active Raptor had seen the court for at least five minutes by the time the game was half over and no starter played more than 20 minutes all night.

"We're trying to build on what we have been doing," Mitchell said.

"The message I had for the guys today was we have had four pretty good defensive games and we want to build on that and continue to try and get better."

The fact that the Bulls were coming off a 151-point night against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday had Mitchell's attention and he didn't want his Raptors heading into a playoff series with that kind of beating in the back of their minds.

The Raps made sure there was no repeat of that with a solid enough defensive effort in a game in which defence was clearly not a priority.

T.J. Ford led all Raptors scorers with 18 points, 16 of those coming in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Tyrus Thomas led the Bulls with 20 points while centre Aaron Gray had a stunning double-double with 19 points and 22 rebounds in a game he started only because Joakim Noah showed up for work late.

If Magic players were watching this one hoping to pick up anything that would help with their preparation for the Raps, they were wasting their time unless they're expecting to see plenty of Kris Humphries and Primoz Brezec.

Joey Graham got more burn in this game than he has in the past 12 games combined.


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