Thanks to Jose Calderon the Raptors managed to do just that.
Well in a season of lows last night's game was a highlight.
In the last game of their 4 game home stand the Toronto Raptors pulled out an unexpected win against the New Orleans Hornets 96-90.
The Raptors once again came out of the gate strong and played an impressive first quarter led by Jose Calderon who outplayed CP3 early, often and all night long. The first quarter was a complete effort by the Raps and if it were not for the 6 turnovers early, the Raps easily could have finished the quarter up by ten or more points.
The game did get much closer when the starters hit the pine and the second stringers got their first minutes. The catalyst to the New Orleans run? Former Raptor Jarrett Jack. Jack came into the game like a house on fire and brought the Hornets back into the game. Jack along with another former Raptors Marco Belinelli had strong games against their former clubs.
Even though the Hornets made a run the Raps were up to the challenge.
Late in the second quarter the Raps were hitting on all cylinders - led by the Young Gunz, DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems. Both Weems and DeRozan were attacking the rim and taking (and making) high percentage shots. The efficient scoring was matched with some above average defence and with a 20-5 run the Raps were up big at the half. All in all it was an impressive first half performance by the Raps who put a solid defensive squad up against the ropes.
There have been many games where the Raps have come out strong early only to see the end result finish in favour of their opponent. Tonight however, was a different story.
Although the game was close down the stretch the Raptors did not fold under pressure and most of the credit belongs to the aforementioned Calderon.
Simply put, Jose Calderon wouldn't let this game finish in another L. Jose Calderon had an unbelievable night. Not only did Jose have an exceptional line (22-16-7) he also willed this team to victory (despite some poor late game execution, in particular shot clock violations down the stretch).
Jose greatly outplayed Chris Paul who looked hesitant and mostly disinterested. Could Paul be thinking ahead to tonight's game when he faces Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks? We have all heard the rumours about him being the final piece in New York. Calderon on the other hand was in the zone. He played an almost perfect game. He found his shot, distributed the ball and could not have managed the game any better.
Another guy who deserves some credit? James Johnson. JJ had a terrific second half. He used his body to create space and even hit some big shots from the outside. No-one can debate whether he has an NBA body, the only question is what will he do with it. Well if last night is any indication Johnson is starting to take advantage of the opportunity granted to him when Bryan Colangelo acquired the Wake Forest product. As the season winds down the young guys have to take advantage of the playing time afforded to them and make a strong case that they are part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Johnson seems to have some strong chemistry with his teammates which is surprising given the short time he has been on the team. I a season full of lows I actually get excited to see the Johnson, Davis, Johnson, DeRozan and Calderon line-up.
It was this line-up that helped maintain a solid lead for most of the third quarter. This line-up not only played solid on the offensive end, they also controlled the painted area which is something this team has struggled with all season long.
On a whole a great team effort for a solid W. Hopefully the home stretch of the season features a few of these performances helping to build some anticipation and excitement for next year.