for this game

Calderon returns, sparks Raptors past Bulls

Jan 24, 2009 - 5:52 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- All the Toronto Raptors needed to stop their deep slide was the return of their floor general.

Point guard Jose Calderon returned to the lineup after a six-game absence and collected 23 points and 10 assists to help the Raptors snap a seven-game slide with a 114-94 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Andrea Bargnani added 22 points and Chris Bosh added 17 points and six steals for Toronto, which shot 57 percent (43-of-76) from the field and forced 23 turnovers.

"It was completely different for us with (Calderon) out there on the floor," Raptors interim coach Jay Triano said. "He controls the ball and the spacing for our players on offense. He played great, give him all the credit. We are a different team with him out on the floor."

Calderon has been battling a strained hamstring since the beginning of January and missed four games before returning prematurely and aggravating the injury on January 11, which marked the first loss in the Raptors' seven-game slide.

"I am extremly pleased with how I played and the amount of minutes I played," Calderon said. "I just needed to be out there. It has been a long time that I have not been out there with my teammates."

The Spaniard showed little rust against the Bulls, logging 30 minutes and saving his best for last with seven points in the last 2:38 as Toronto blew the game open.

"My legs felt pretty good during the game, they feel pretty good now too," Calderon said. "But let's wait until (Saturday) to see how they feel then."

Chicago was as close as 91-90 after Luol Deng's jumper with 6:22 left but managed just one field goal the rest of the way.

"Miscommunication," Bulls rookie Derrick Rose said when asked about the late breakdown. "We didn't switch when we were supposed to switch. We had a lot of defensive breakdowns at the end. Things happen but we have to keep our heads up. This is the NBA, you are going to lose

some games."

The game was tied, 54-54, at the half before Bosh, Bargnani and Calderon combined for all the points in a 13-1 run to begin the third quarter. The Bulls drew back within 73-69 in the third and chipped away in the fourth but never led in the second half.

"It was important to get him back in the lineup," Bargnani said. "With Calderon back there everyone has more confidence. Jose pushed the ball up the court very well tonight. We scored baskets on the fastbreak. That is something we weren't doing with him out."

Ben Gordon scored 19 points and Kirk Hinrich added 17 for Chicago, which has dropped four in a row.

"I thought we made too many mistakes," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "I am not happy with our energy or effort at the end of the game. We shot the ball all right but gave up too high of a field-goal percentage and we were back on our heels most of the game."