If I told you before tonight’s Raptors-Hornets game that one of Chris Paul and Jose Calderon was gonna score 22 points, grab seven boards, hand out 16 assists and hold the other to seven, four and five in a winning cause, which would you have chosen? If you’d have picked Calderon, you’d have have been both out of your mind and surprisingly correct. The little Spanish engine churned its way to arguably the best all-around performance of its career, lifting Toronto to a 96-90 win to wrap the homestand and send the Raps to England on a high note.
Calderon made 7-of-10 shots and led a first half attack that handed Toronto a 57-42 lead at the break, scoring 10 points and handing out nine assists over the span. He opened with a first quarter four-point play off a Paul foul, made another three before the half and used both his outside shot and open court play to get the best of New Orleans’ all-star in the second half. After a stretch of Jerryd Bayless allowed the Hornets to pull within three points with about eight minutes to go, Jay Triano called back on Calderon, who took the reigns down the stretch to win.
DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems both had big first halfs but cooled late, finishing with 17 and 14 points, respectively. Toronto also got nice efforts from the Johnson twins, with Amir shaking a poor offensive night (3-of-10, eight points) to grab 10 boards and block seven shots and James putting in 13 points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks. Andrea Bargnani picked up the slack after a quiet start, scoring six of his 14 in the fourth.
The Raptors now head to Europe, where they’ll face the Nets for a pair of road games on Friday and Saturday at O2 Arena in London, England. Not sure how much they know about the NBA out there, but do you think the league can get away with convincing the fans they’re actually seeing two good teams play? Let’s hope they don’t know too much.