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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 02.03.11
Calderon leads Raptors over Hornets
Young, big Raptors were tremendous
Tuesday night against New Orleans, Jose Calderon was brilliant in leading Toronto to its 96-90 win, a game that saw Toronto’s point guard win the game within the game against Chris Paul.
Calderon’s floor game was clinical, his work ethic exemplary and his leadership contagious.
He wasn’t alone, but no way Raptors overcome a fourth-quarter Hornets uprising without Calderon’s presence.
The point of attack, one of Toronto’s weaknesses on defence, wasn’t as problematic as Calderon did a solid job on screen and rolls.
“It wasn’t just me,’’ Calderon said inside a busy Raptors locker room as players scurried to catch a bus ride to the airport, where the team’s London-bound charter was set to wing what seemed like the entire organization to England.
“My teammates were there to help on the backside. Team defence is important and we did a good job.”
What Calderon also did well was look to score, something he isn’t accustomed because his natural instinct is to look for others.
“I try to play basketball the same way, every game, against every opponent,’’ Calderon said. “Maybe (against New Orleans) I was more aggressive. Sometimes, I guess, I have to be selfish, but we all made shots.”
Raps off to England after win over Hornets
Toronto’s young big men continue to impress.
The trio of Amir Johnson, James Johnson and Ed Davis put in its second-straight standout effort on Tuesday, giving New Orleans all kinds of problems thanks to their athleticism and length.
With the game very much in the balance, Amir Johnson made some timely blocks, frustrating New Orleans’ wide but shorter frontline of David West and Emeka Okafor.
Johnson tied his career-high with seven blocks, while the team collected 11 overall, tying its season-high.
James Johnson blocked two shots and collected five boards in 21 minutes, while Davis had eight boards and a block, plus a couple non-counting monster help-blocks after fouls.
James Johnson said he is enjoying his time in Toronto so far because of the way his teammates help out when a mistake is made.
“This team is great a bunch of young guys who will get in it when someone gets beat and rotate,” Johnson said.
“They helped me so I had to help them.
“We have scorers, that’s easy. The other end, stopping people, that’s the hard part of basketball.”
Johnson said Amir particularly impressed him.
“(Amir’s) doing exactly what we need him to do.
“Elevating, picking and rolling, playing his game and that’s hard to find, somebody who’s not trying to go outside his role.”
Raptors hold on for victory over Hornets
Jose Calderon — sure to have some supporters from Spain watching him in London — was brilliant, with 22 points and 16 assists, as the Raptors bounced the New Orleans Hornets 96-90 at the Air Canada Centre, helping make the long flight a bit easier to take.
“I thought Jose did an excellent job at both ends of the floor,” said Triano. “We asked our bigs to get up and provide as much help as they could with Chris Paul in the screen-roll. But it comes down to the point guard trying to fight through or go underneath or get over screens, and I thought that he did a really good job of that.”
Calderon’s terrific performance — the all-star Paul had just seven points and five assists — was backed up by as good an all-around defensive effort as the Raptors have produced in weeks.
Amir Johnson had a career-high seven blocked shots, the Raptors out-rebounded the Hornets 38-36 and Toronto held New Orleans to just 44 per cent shooting.
“We kept reiterating with our team, any time (Paul) was in a screen-roll, you don’t guard it with one guy, you guard it with five guys,” said Triano. “Guys have to be in on the weak side, you have to force him and bait him into throwing cross-court passes and you have to close out under control on that.
“Jose did the initial job up front of doing all the work, but everyone has to be responsible on the play.”
Calderon helps guide Raptors over Hornets
Former Raptors star Chris Bosh returned to Toronto feeling anxious about boos. Former Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell spent his first game back glad-handing with what seemed like the entire arena.
Tuesday night, Jarrett Jack stepped onto centre court Air Canada Centre for the first time since joining the New Orleans Hornets just over three months ago – and shrugged.
“Same old, same old,” he said, taking a break during the pregame warm-up. The point guard who spent one-plus seasons with the Raptors insisted the only difference between Tuesday’s game and any other was he got to enjoy a fine Italian meal with former teammates at one of his favourite old haunts in Toronto’s posh Yorkville neighbourhood.
Tuesday, however, these weren’t the same old Raptors.
They forgot about their putrid record (now 17-44) and clinched a 96-90 win over a superior Hornets squad (35-27). Toronto was led by an inspired Jose Calderon, who had a huge game with a game-high 22 points, 16 assists and seven rebounds.
After the buzzer, Toronto took the red-eye to London, where they’ll face the New jersey Nets in regular-season play on Friday and Saturday.
Jack returns to Toronto content with the Hornets
However, Paul did not give a superstar performance in Toronto. The Raptors contained him all evening, holding the all-star to seven points and five assists. Instead, Jose Calderon outplayed him.
“Jose did the initial job [of stopping Paul] up front of doing all the work, but everybody’s got to be responsible on the play,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said.
“We kept reiterating with our team, you don’t guard [Paul’s pick-and-roll] with one guy, you guard it with five guys.”
Calderon, the Raptors’ starting point guard, nearly had a double-double by the half, and finished with 22 points and 16 assists. Calderon averaged 11.4 assists per game in February — better than the season average of every player in the league save for Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash — and picked up where he left off in his first game of March. Calderon punctuated the game with a coast-to-coast layup, outpacing two Hornets to extend the Raptors’ lead to six points late?
Amir Johnson added seven blocks for the Raptors, who headed off to London, England where they will play two games against the New jersey Nets on Friday and Saturday.
However, Jack certainly gave a lot of himself to the Raptors, even after his good friend Chris Bosh bolted for Miami. He was in Toronto over the summer, working out with younger players such as Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems.
“I just wanted to show them and everyone else that I was serious about being here,” Jack said. “I wanted to be part of what they had going forward. I think actions speak louder than words, so I tried to show it with my actions more than anything, that I wanted to be here.”
There is no trace of bitterness in Jack’s voice, and that is understandable. The Raptors had to make a choice between Jose Calderon and Jack at point guard, and Jack’s deal was easier to move. Plus, the Raptors sent Jack to New Orleans, where he is familiar with star Chris Paul and coach Monty Williams. And yeah, there is the better-than-good shot at the playoffs. (The only thing going wrong for Jack is his recent arrest for driving under the influence, a matter that is still being worked out.)
It is the business. The business is a tad cold sometimes, though.
“I watch their games all the time. I think DeMar has definitely grown tremendously from last year. It’s good to see Ed [Davis] settle in and guys getting healthy,” Jack said. “I always keep track of them, watch them, always try to make sure they’re doing all right.”