Calderon the conqueror

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

The best Bulls-fighter yesterday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre was, appropriately enough, a Spanish guy.

Point guard Jose Calderon, starting in place of the injured T.J. Ford, played one of the best games of his NBA career in leading the Raptors to a 93-78 victory over the foundering Chicago Bulls.

Calderon set a career high for assists with 14. He also added a team-high 19 points to record his second double-double of the season. Equally impressive, the native of Villanueva de la Serena, Spain, turned the ball over only once.

In Toronto's 111-108 loss in Cleveland on Saturday, Calderon picked up 13 assists with no turnovers. He claimed he wasn't aware of the numbers before or after yesterday's game.

"I just try to take care of the ball and try to make the easy pass for my teammates," said Calderon, stressing again that he will be perfectly happy to go back to his role as the backup point guard after Ford returns to the lineup. Ford suffered an arm stinger on Nov. 21 in Memphis.

"Everybody enjoys playing a lot of minutes for sure, but how I feel right now, we need T.J. for Wednesday (against the Memphis Grizzlies).

Calderon's stellar play since Ford went down further proves that he could be a starter with many teams in the NBA. But he won't allow himself to think of that or covet such an opportunity.

"Sometimes you have to be with another great point guard like T.J., if you want to win," he said. "You have to see every option. You can go with (another) team, but if you have no option to win, why would you want to be there? I prefer to be here with T.J., and share the minutes and maybe we'll have a championship team. I feel great here."

The victory yesterday, which improved the Raptors to 7-7, makes Sam Mitchell the winningest head coach in the team's short history, with 114 (breaking the mark set by Lenny Wilkens). The Bulls, considered one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA last season, dropped to 2-10.

Chris Bosh continued his recent strong play, scoring 16 points with 13 rebounds, to go with four assists, for his seventh double-double of the season. Bosh scored a career-high 41 against the Cavaliers on Saturday.

"I actually feel good, that's the thing I'm most surprised about," said Bosh, who was hampered earlier in the season with a sore knee. "I'm very confident right now. I just have to keep it up for the rest of the season."

The Raptors had a season-high 10 blocked shots and kept the Bulls to only 38% shooting from the field, while shooting 43% themselves, including 7-for-17 from beyond the arc.

Mitchell couldn't resist the chance to chide the media after the win, pointing out that he had been asked numerous times in the past if it was prudent to keep two top-tier point guards on the same team.

"It's a luxury because it gives us an opportunity to keep constant pressure on teams. They can (both) score the ball a little, they make good decisions and they're pretty good defenders," he said.

Rookie Jamario Moon had another good game, scoring 15 points, with six blocks and nine rebounds, and did an effective job keeping Chicago's Luol Deng off his game, though Deng did pick up 21 points.


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