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News » No point guard controversy here

No point guard controversy here

No point guard controversy hereThey were animated as schoolkids. Walking off the floor just before halftime, Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon were side by side, comparing notes, giving each other suggestions, giving every indication that the two men charged with directing the Raptors' offence are very much in sync.

They proved that last night during the Raptors' 123-112 win over the Indiana Pacers at the Air Canada Centre. The game was mainly decided by halftime as the Raptors scored a season-high 74 points for the half with Calderon and Jack doing most of the damage.

Combined, they were nine-of-10 from the floor for 25 points with eight assists and just one turnover through two quarters. They finished with 39 points and 13 assists and just three turnovers for the game. Backcourt play doesn't get much more efficient, and the timing was perfect as Chris Bosh struggled to a rare off night, scoring just 16 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

Calderon started, Jack came off the bench, but some of the Raptors' best moments came when they were on the floor together at the end of the first half. They helped push a 15-point lead to a 21-point bulge as Jack hit Calderon for a triple and Calderon fed Jack for a layup not long after. Each helped facilitate the offence as seven Raptors hit for double figures.

Point guard controversy? Only if the debate is over which is the better teammate.

"Both guys played extremely well," Raptors head coach Jay Triano said. "I really liked when they were out there together. I thought they were very unselfish and shared the Basketball between themselves extremely well. I think it's just everyone getting to know each other a little bit.

"At one point they probably thought they were competing with one another for a position and now they've realized they can play together on the floor as well as give each other relief."

Jack, who finished with a season-high 18 points on a perfect seven-of-seven shooting night, struggled early this season but has found his feet in the last three or four games. Calderon, who led the Raptors with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, is starting to round into form after struggling with injuries much of last year.

"We just feed off one another," Jack said. "We're both very giving people, Basketball aside, and that's what allows us to co-exist."

The Raptors are starting a long stretch of games against teams that will likely be in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff race, at least outside the top four seeds. The win moved Toronto [7-8] past Indiana and Chicago into seventh place in the East. It's early, but it can't hurt.

Before last night's game, only three of the Raptors' first 14 starts had been against teams projected to be in the race for the bottom four seeds in the East based on preseason expectations. Toronto has already played eight games against Western Conference teams; a pair against Orlando, a favourite for the Eastern Conference crown; and one against Cleveland, another contender.

Last night's welcome win was briefly in doubt in the third quarter as the Pacers' Danny Granger made a point of attacking Toronto rookie DeMar DeRozan and caught fire on his way to a 22-point second half and a 36-point night.

Fittingly, it was Jack who shut the door on his old team.

A pair of three-point plays by Jack in the final minute of the third quarter helped stabilize matters when it appeared all their early work would go undone. Then with five minutes left in game and Indiana within eight, Jack hit another triple on a feed from Calderon to push the lead back to double figures for good.

Clearly his early-season stumbles in the wake of signing a four-year, $20-million (U.S.) contract or tip-toeing around Calderon seem to be behind him, to the Raptors' benefit.

"I wanted to put my best foot forward and I think I was thinking too much and not playing like me," Jack said. "I've just kind of put my shoulders down and am playing regular Basketball."



Notes The Raptors flew to Charlotte after the game for tonight's tilt against the Bobcats and newly added Stephen Jackson. Last season Chris Bosh averaged 30.5 points and 11.8 rebounds in four games against Charlotte. Toronto enters the matchup leading the all-time series 12-6, including 6-3 record on the road. ... The Raptors had both Marco Belinelli (groin) and Antoine Wright (ankle) available after both were out on Sunday. The Pacers were without Mike Dunleavy, the talented shooting guard who is on the cusp of returning from knee surgery that cost him nearly all of last season and all of this one so far after his breakout year in 2007-08 when played in all 82 games with the Pacers and averaged 19.1 points a game while shooting 42.4 per cent from three. Former Raptor T.J. Ford was all smiles as he recently became the father of a baby girl.

Next Tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats, 7 p.m.

TV The Score.

Michael Grange

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Added: November 25, 2009


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