After Carter returned with 5½ minutes left, Artest had a finish
Toronto snapped a two-game losing streak and handed the Bulls
their fifth straight loss.
"It was a team effort, and that's what we've been lacking," Carter said. "We needed a win, any way and by any means, and we did a good job maintaining when they were making their run."
The Raptors, who moved within a half-game of second-place
Indiana in the Central Division, closed the game with a 10-2 run.
Artest led the Bulls with 21 points, but his lapses at the free
throw line and his inability to stop Carter hurt the Bulls late in
the fourth quarter.
Carter, who twisted his ankle with 10:30 remaining, hit a tough turnaround over Artest after returning with 5½ minutes left.
"My first play back they called my number, so I had to do
something," Carter said. "That shot helped, but it wasn't the
key. It was one of many shots that got us in the groove."
Carter then beat Artest on a backdoor play and converted a tough
reverse layup to complete a 6-0 run for a 79-71 lead with 2:28
Artest missed one of two foul shots on Chicago's next
possession, then missed two more with 1:48 left. Just 10 seconds
later, he fouled Williams on the perimeter -- with Williams making
both shots for an 81-72 lead.
The Bulls then missed consecutive shots before Artest was called
for his fifth foul while going for the rebound. Williams again hit
both free throws, wrapping up the victory.
"Vince made some shots against him, but we concentrated on
getting him stopped offensively," Williams said of Artest.
Carter twisted his right ankle early in the fourth quarter when
he ran into Marcus Fizer as Fizer was setting a pick. Carter limped
off shortly after Curry made a 3-pointer for a 63-53 lead.
Artest scored six straight points, driving through several
Raptors for a layup that made it 71-66 with 5:09 left and caused
Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens to throw his hands up in disgust.
That led to Carter's return, and the Bulls never threatened again.
"They looked tired, but we stooped to their level," Artest said. "Vince looked tired. Throughout the game I should have attacked him, but I just didn't. We could have all come in and attacked more."
Toronto took its first double-digit lead when Carter stole the
ball and went in for an uncontested dunk -- not a particularly
flashy one by his standards -- to make it 40-30 with 1:23 left before halftime.
Davis scored six straight points early in the third quarter to
give Toronto a 54-40 lead.
Tracy Murray made his first start of the season for Toronto
and was 0-for-2 with two fouls and no rebounds in the first
quarter. He played seven minutes in the third quarter and did not
add any statistics to his line. ... Chicago center Brad Miller
returned from a one-game absence and shot 0-for-7 with 10 rebounds.
... Bulls forward Eddie Robinson, out since mid-November with a
sore left big toe, is planning to return Tuesday against his former
team, the Charlotte Hornets. Robinson is still experiencing pain,
but wants to give it a shot. If the pain persists, season-ending
surgery is an option.