Andres Nocioni, the Bull least likely to intimidate or overwhelm an NBA rival, dunked with rare authority over Toronto star Chris Bosh on Monday night.
Nocioni's jam revved up 21,103 fans at the United Center in the Bulls' 113-104 victory over the Raptors. His play came during a 22-5 Bulls run to close the second quarter as they opened a 16-point lead at the half.
The second half wasn't nearly as entertaining, with the Bulls escaping a late charge by the Raptors, but big shots remained abundant as the Bulls won their third game in a row.
"We had some great moments out there, and we had some shaky moments out there," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said.
They survived the wobbly moments because of continual big plays from Nocioni, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon.
Gordon's 12 fourth-quarter points were especially impressive because he sat out most of the third with stomach pain. He finished with 19 points.
"Give them credit," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "Hinrich and Gordon hit some big shots."
Hinrich led the way with 25 points, two days after knocking out Memphis with 26, and had 11 assists to help offset his six turnovers.
Deng added 21 points, and Nocioni scored 18 to go with nine rebounds and three blocks in perhaps his most solid all-around game of the season.
"He's been fantastic," Skiles said.
Toronto's Bosh led all scorers with 26 but had only six in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls came in ranked second in three-point shooting and kept up a torrid pace, going 11-for-18 (61.1 percent).
Like they did in victories over Milwaukee and Memphis over the weekend, the Bulls had crisp ball movement, except for brief stretches in the second half when they struggled with Toronto's zone.
"It's the guys' willingness to move the ball around instead of holding it," Skiles said. "I don't have any complaints of anybody being a serious ball-holder or anything.
"Sometimes we make the extra pass, move it to a teammate without putting it on the floor or trying to do something yourself. It changes the angles of where the ball is coming from. It changes the defensive angles. It changes everything.
"Our guys work very hard at it."
The Bulls kept their cool during an early onslaught by Toronto. The Raptors sank seven straight shots to open the game and were led in the first quarter by former Bull Jalen Rose and Morris Peterson, with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Rose finished with 24 points, and Peterson added 22.
Peterson arrived at the United Center with a sense of relief that his ejection Sunday in a loss to the Nets would not come back to haunt him via a fine.
Peterson said he spoke with Stu Jackson, the NBA's senior vice president of operations, who told him no fine was coming for his slap of the Nets' Vince Carter, an ex-teammate. Carter hit Peterson first, but his slap was playful. Peterson didn't get the joke and retaliated angrily.
"They reviewed everything ... and felt like there isn't going to be a fine assessed to me," Peterson said. "That's the good news."
It was the only good news of the night for the Raptors.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times