Bargnani comes up big

Raptors' Andrea Bargnani goes up for a shot during NBA action against the Bulls on Wednesday. (Sun...

Raptors' Andrea Bargnani goes up for a shot during NBA action against the Bulls on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Dave Thomas)

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

His numbers weren't really anything to write home (to Italy) about. In fact, his teammate Chris Bosh had a much bigger game in that department, as did his counterpart with the Chicago Bulls, centre Joakim Noah.

But Toronto big man Andrea Bargnani was big when his team needed him, helping the Raptors defeat the Chicago Bulls 99-89 last night at the Air Canada Centre.

Bargnani made a number of key plays late in the contest, including one early in the fourth quarter when he blocked a Brad Miller shot, deflecting the ball to Marco Belinelli, who took it down-court for a layup, bringing the Raps to within one (80-79).

And then with just over five minutes left, Bargnani stole the ball from Luol Deng, was fouled on a clear-path violation by Noah, and nailed two frees, for a 91-88 lead. Because of the foul, the Raptors retained possession and Jose Calderon scored on a 22-foot jumper for a four-point play, and 93-88 lead.

Bargnani finished with 16 points, six in the final quarter, six rebounds and two steals.

STRONG DEFENCE

But the big difference in the contest was the Raptors defence in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter, when the home side held the Bulls to 11 points and 14.3% shooting.

Chicago went dead cold in the final frame, shooting 3-for-21. The Raptors out-scored Chicago 46-29 in the half and outrebounded them 29-18.

Head coach Jay Triano said it all came down to effort, as well as a few matchup changes.

"We were embarrassed at half time," he said. "They had 60 points against us. I credit our guys. They pulled together and found a way to hold the (Bulls) to 29 points. All we said to them was: 'That team averages 88 (per game), they have 60 right now.' We competed in every single possession, which is what we have to do all the time."

The Raptors improved to 4-4 with the win.

Bosh recorded his sixth double-double of the season in the eight games, recording 28 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a block.

"Chris has been solid and consistent with his effort (all season)," Triano said. "He battled, and they made it tough on him."

Rookie shooting guard DeMar DeRozan had nine boards, two blocks and nine points, including a huge slam in the third that lifted the 16,310 faithful to their feet.

"DeMar was great," Triano said. "He chased balls, he rebounded, he was aggressive. He had one of his best games as a pro."

Starting point guard Jose Calderon finished with 18 points and six assists while small forward Hedo Turkoglu had 11 points, eight boards, four assists and two steals, but left the game in the fourth quarter with a sore hip. He'll be re-evaluated today.

Noah had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Raptors led for most of the first half, but couldn't pull away from Chicago, despite the fact the Bulls played a hard-fought game in the Windy City on Tuesday, losing to Denver 90-89.

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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