DeRozan scored 28 of his 37 points in the second half to tie his career high, but in the end, the lone strong performance wasn't enough to lift an otherwise lacklustre Raptors team in a 96-80 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
"I just wanted to win, man. That was the only thing, just looking at the score, just my passion, just trying to win," said DeRozan, whose second-half outburst included a couple of big dunks and four three-pointers.
The loss came against a Bulls team that was missing 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose, who sat out with a sore hamstring. Rose's absence didn't seem to matter, as the rest of the Bulls (4-3) picked up the slack, Luol Deng leading the way with 19 points and Joakim Noah adding 18.
DeRozan said his second-half scoring outburst came partly out of frustration, and frustration was written on his face down the stretch.
"You can call it that. It was just the will to win," said DeRozan, who had scored 37 points twice before — most recently in a triple overtime loss to Utah in November of last year. "Just tried to get it started, somebody had to do something, just tried to come out and bring energy, tried to get my teammates energized."
It clearly didn't work in an otherwise woeful performance for the Raptors (4-6), who were coming off a 100-87 win over Memphis two nights earlier, but looked like a different team on Friday, trailing from the opening whistle and shooting just 35 per cent from the field.
Rudy Gay was the only other Raptor to score in double figures with 20 points. Jonas Valanciunas had a team-high eight rebounds.
"He was the one redeeming spot tonight, the way he came out and made a muscle in the second half," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. "But again, it's a 48-minute game, you've got to start that way."
A group of fans chanted "Ar-gos!" late in the first half, and by midway through the third quarter, when the Raptors had fallen behind by 25 points, a decidedly more hostile crowd ushered the Raptors off the court during a timeout with a loud chorus of boos.
"There is nothing redeeming about tonight, tonight is one of those stinkers you have when you're mentally fried, physically fried," Casey said. "But again this is the NBA, there are no excuses. That wasn't us. We've had stretches like that, but not an entire game, the way we were mentally kind of running in mud, running in place."
Five Bulls scored in double figures with Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler adding 14 apiece, and Kirk Hinrich adding 12.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said he was particularly happy with the performance of his forwards.
"I thought they got us established in the paint early," the coach said. "Carlos was terrific, I thought Jo (Noah) was very, very active everywhere. I thought Kirk did a great job running the team. We had a very balanced scoring attack. I thought the defence overall, was excellent."
The Raptors shot just 27 per cent in the first quarter and made just three of their first 14 shots as the Bulls raced out to an early nine-point lead. Boozer connected on a turnaround hook shot that put Chicago up by 11 and the Bulls took a 27-16 advantage into the second quarter.
Toronto fared no better in a second quarter that saw them shoot a horrible 26 per cent, and fall behind by 19 points. The Raptors showed a brief moment of life before the break when Valanciunas faked, then drove past Noah to finish with a dunk.
DeRozan completed a three-point play on the Raptors' next possession to get the home team within 12. But that burst was short-lived and the Bulls took a 45-31 lead into the dressing room at halftime.
Chicago began the third with a 15-4 run to go up 60-35 and put the game out of reach.
NOTES: The game was the first of a stretch of six out of seven at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors host Portland on Sunday, then are in Philadelphia on Wednesday before returning to Toronto for four in a row at Air Canada Centre.