TORONTO - Stop if you've heard this one before:
The Raptors played a solid three quarters before wilting in the fourth to lose a basketball game.
It has happened a number of times this season and on Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls used a final frame flurry to disappoint the Raptors 94-82 at the ACC.
After surrendering a disappointing 69 points through three, the league's second-stingiest defence buckled down and scored the first 10 points of the fourth and 16 of the first 19, to turn around a seven-point deficit and take complete control.
"Chicago is not chopped liver. We competed for three and a half quarters of the game," summarized Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, who said he is still looking to see his club put four good quarters together against a quality team.
Chicago rallied around its reserves -- namely John Lucas III, Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson, who tallied 27 in the fourth, the starters scored only four points in the quarter.
Korver and Lucas were singled out on the team's pre-game white board as players to watch out for, but it didn't work.
"Those two guys broke our back," Casey said.
DeMar DeRozan aggressively attacked the Bulls, taking a season high 25 shots, connecting on 11-for-21 points to lead the Raptors, James Johnson added 16.
The Raptors dropped to 15-32, Chicago improved to a league-best 39-10, even though league MVP Derrick Rose was out again.
Andrea Bargnani struggled mightily, hitting only two shots for eight points, though he did manage six assists and five rebounds.
"The injury is fine, the leg is fine. I don't have the rhythm the shape (yet)," explained Bargnani honestly of his struggles since coming back from his calf injury.
"I'm playing really bad offensively."
He is 15 for his past 52 from the field.
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Casey was looking for a vastly improved defensive performance from his Raptors after a fourth-quarter horror show in New York and he got it early.
The Raptors, mixing man-to-man with some zone, forced the Bulls into some bad shots.
The Raptors took a surprising 51-43 lead into the break largely because the Bulls were held to 40% shooting and committed an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers.
But they only turned it over only four more times from there and dropped the Raptors from 47.6% shooting through three to 41.2% by the game's conclusion.
BAYLESS CAN'T GO
Jerryd Bayless attempted to play through a painful hip pointer injury, but headed back to the locker room after less than a minute on the court.
His status is listed as day-to-day. His absence forced Gary Forbes into the backup point guard role behind Jose Calderon -- who only returned from an injury of his own a game ago -- and left the Raptors down a scoring guard. Forbes had five assists "¶ Amir Johnson made his presence felt early. Despite giving up some poundage to Joakim Noah, Johnson forced him into two misses inside and got an easy bucket at the other end.
Casey was full of praise for counterpart Tom Thibodeau, who has led the Bulls to the league's top record, despite missing Rose for a quarter of the season.
Even without the sublime Rose, Thibodeau has the Bulls playing stellar basketball -- including an 8-2 run heading in to this one.
Casey made it clear that Thibodeau should be the repeat winner of coach of the year. After all, last year he had Rose, this year he's doing just as well with Rose in and out of the lineup.
Thibodeau became the fastest coach ever to get to 100 wins when Chicago beat Orlando.
Thibodeau said before facing the Raptors that Chicago's depth was the reason the team has been able to have success despite injuries.
Rip Hamilton has also been forced to the sidelines quite often.
Reserve big men Taj Gibson and Omer Asik are excellent defenders who would start on many other teams.
TROOPS GET THEIR PROPS
The Raptors honoured the Canadian Armed Forces with an appreciation night that featured camouflage jerseys.
More than 300 Forces members from CFB Borden, Toronto and Trenton were honoured throughout the game.
It was the first time an NBA team has worn a camouflage jersey. It will be worn four other times this season.
The outfits were a big improvement from the Boston Celtics-copying green jerseys the team has worn around St. Patrick's Day in recent years.