Toni Kukoc rescued the listless Chicago Bulls, scoring 19 of his 21 points in the second half in a 93-86 win over the scrappy Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
On a night when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were a combined 9-of-2 from the field, Kukoc supplied the offense as the Bulls averted a huge upset at the United Center where they are 22-2 this season.
Kukoc, who had missed the two games before the All-Star break with a sore back, hit 9-of-12 shots and also had 10 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
Luc Longley scored 19 for the Bulls while All-Star game MVP Jordan, who sat out the fourth quarter, had 18 on 8-for-21 shooting. Pippen finished with six points on 1-for-7 shooting. Dennis Rodman pulled down 17 rebounds.
Damon Stoudamire had 19 points and Reggie Slater added 16 for Toronto, which had 22 turnovers.
Trailing by three in the final quarter, the Bulls regained the lead and held it as Longley dunked after a nifty pass from Kukoc, Randy Brown made a layup after Stoudamire lost the ball in the lane and Kukoc scored following a steal by Jason Caffey. That gave the Bulls a 74-71 lead.
Caffey dunked, Kukoc tipped in a shot and then hit a 3-pointer as the Bulls went ahead 85-77 with less than four minutes remaining.
Kukoc scored seven points in the final 1:17 of the third quarter as the
Bulls struggled to a 66-65 lead entering the final period.
The Bulls, looking sluggish in their first game in nearly a week, shot just 35 percent in the first half, including 4-for-13 by Jordan.
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