Sam Mitchell set the record for most wins as a Raptors coach Sunday on the strength of a backup point guard who could start for most other teams in the league, and a super-athletic rookie who had simply been waiting for his time to shine.
Jose Calderon led Toronto to a 93-78 win over the Chicago Bulls, scoring 19 points and doling out a career-high 14 assists in filling in for the injured T.J. Ford.
"It's huge," Mitchell said on the luxury of having two strong point guards. "We feel like we have the best combination of point guards in the league. . . That's why we haven't entertained the idea of moving either of them."
Raptors rookie Jamario Moon, who toiled around the minor leagues and has gone from being a longshot at camp to a major contributor, added 15 points, nine rebounds, six blocks and three steals.
"We think he has a chance to be a pretty good player and that's why he's playing," Mitchell said of the 27-year-old. "He's not playing for any other reason but that he deserves to play."
And the victory marked No. 114 for Mitchell, vaulting him past Lenny Wilkens for most wins in franchise history.
"It means you had a job for a while," the coach said, shrugging off the honour. "I'm just proud of the way those guys played."
Chris Bosh finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds as Toronto improved to 7-7 and 3-4 at the Air Canada Centre. Carlos Delfino added 13 points.
Luol Deng had 21 points to top the struggling Bulls (2-10).
"Without question we are in a rut which we've got to get through," said Chicago coach Scott Skiles. "Somebody or some people have to step up and pick us up."
Until the fourth quarter, the Raptors never led by more than eight points, taking a 70-64 advantage into the final frame.
The Bulls cut Toronto's lead to two points early in the fourth, threatening to send the Raptors to their fifth loss at home this season.
But it was all Raptors from that point on, with a three-pointer by Jason Kapono then two consecutive baskets by Moon putting Toronto up 77-68 with just under five minutes left.
On Moon's first basket, the rookie drove hard to the hoop along the baseline, then leapt high over Ben Wallace, laying it in softly and drawing a foul with his fake and bringing the capacity crowd of 19,800 at the Air Canada Centre to its feet.
"It just gave us a spark. It was one of those plays that kind of picks your team up," said Mitchell.
Moon had a big block on Deng the next time down the floor.
"Sometimes you're flat and when you have a guy that's going to come out and run the floor like that, get some big-time blocked shots, it's going to help us out," Bosh said. "That kind of wakes everybody up."
Three-pointers by Anthony Parker and Calderon - Calderon's giving Toronto an 87-75 lead with just over a minute left - put the game out of reach.
Calderon filled in for Ford admirably in his 40 minutes. His one turnover with his only giveaway in the past two games.
"Jose is just playing fantastic right now," Bosh said. "He's moving the ball, putting it where he's supposed to, taking great shots. He's just poised and controlled, and we need that right now, especially when T.J. is out."
Calderon was queried again about his thoughts on being a backup.
"Sometimes you have to be with another great point guard like T.J. if you want to win a ring," Calderon said. "You can go with one team, but if you have no option to win, why do you want to be there? I would rather be here with T.J. and share the minutes, and maybe we'll have a championship team."
The Raptors shot 43 per cent in the game. They also outrebounded the Bulls 45-44.
Bosh, who was coming off a tremendous 41-point effort that tied his career high in a 111-108 loss at Cleveland the previous night, fought hard for 43 minutes.
"I'm holding up good, I actually feel good, that's the thing I'm mostly surprised at," said Bosh. "It's coming back to me."
Ford missed his third consecutive game with a stinger in his left arm suffered in Tuesday's loss at Dallas. Toronto put Ford on the inactive list Saturday.
Raptors forward Jorge Garbajosa, who is on the mend from the leg injury that ended his rookie season last March, is scheduled to see a specialist Monday in Baltimore and wasn't at the game.
Kirk Hinrich led the way in the first quarter with 13 points, as the Bulls shot 59 per cent in the frame. A driving layup by Hinrich put Chicago up 33-16 heading into the second.
The Bulls took a nine-point lead early in the second but then went cold, shooting just 3-for-19 from the field in the frame. The Raptors outscored their visitors 24-11 in the quarter and led 50-44 at halftime.
A three by Anthony Parker midway through the third gave Toronto a 62-54 advantage, their biggest of the game to that point.
NOTES: The game was the first of three straight at home. The Raptors host Memphis on Wednesday, then Cleveland on Friday. . . . With Winnipeg and Saskatchewan set to battle for the Grey Cup later in the evening just down the street at the Rogers Centre, the ACC crowd was dotted with green-clad Roughriders fans.