Okay, well maybe that title is an overstatement, but considering the way the Raptors played Orlando in their three previous meetings this season, I’ll file this one under improbable. Despite coming oh-so-close to blowing an 18-point lead, Toronto held on for a 108-103 win tonight to get back to .500 for the first time since mid-November.
Jose Calderon returned from a hip flexor and reminded us that he can still be a pretty, pretty productive player in this league, particularly in a supporting role, as he so famously established himself a couple years ago when the Raptors were still dealing with the headache known as T.J. Ford. Calderon backed up Jarrett Jack for the first time tonight, finishing with eight assists and just one turnover in 24 minutes. All five Toronto starters finished in double digits, with Andrea Bargnani leading a balanced effort with 18. Chris Bosh had a double-double with 16 and 11 and Hedo Turkoglu had his best game against his former team thus far, finishing with 17 on 6-0f-11 and 3-of-4 from deep.
Aside from the actual result, the most satisfying part of this one had to be watching baby boy Dwight Howard bicker all night with the refs. Is there a bigger whiner in the league? No, not if you ask me. Dwight: You’re a seven-foot tall freak with about 300 pounds of muscle — you should be able to dunk every time to touch the ball and block every shot that comes within a mile of you. Shut up and play the game. Oh yeah, and it was also a lot of fun watching #15 finish with a sparkling seven-point effort.
So, a surprise win in Orlando leaves the Raptors 18-18 with a pushover in Philly set for Friday. Time to get it cooking on the road? I think so, but I’ve been thinking that for awhile. To quote my pal Tim Bentum, “Let’s see what happens!”