Raps' Calderon on limp

Toronto Raptors rookie guard Jose Calderon is finding an injury to his right foot to be a real...

Toronto Raptors rookie guard Jose Calderon is finding an injury to his right foot to be a real pain. (Toronto Sun File/Veronica Henri)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

ATLANTA -- It is a new year, but Jose Calderon is experiencing the same old problem.

The Raptors rookie point guard missed his second practice in a row yesterday with a right foot injury suffered in the warmup for the team's previous game, last Friday in Indiana.

Calderon's foot has bothered him since he suffered a right heel bruise prior to a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 18. While the injury is not serious, the native of Spain can't help but wonder whether he came back too quickly after missing two games.

Calderon, who also missed the 99-97 win over the Pacers, is questionable for the Raptors' first game of 2006, tonight in Atlanta against the Hawks.

"It's a difficult injury because on each step, I feel this pain and a little strain," Calderon said. "I want to play as soon as I can, but we need to be careful because the last time I played so quick."

The news is better for rookie forward Joey Graham, who hurt his left knee while going for an offensive rebound against Indiana in the first quarter. Graham practised yesterday as the Raptors re-convened at Philips Arena after a one-day break for New Year's.

"I think that was just a little tweak, a little scare," said a smiling Graham, who also had problems with his knee during the pre-season. "I'm fine. I practised hard (yesterday). It was going up or coming down on an offensive rebound. After that, my knee just got real stiff and locked up and I really couldn't move it. After the game, it started loosening up."

Calderon, who has been coming off the bench since returning from his two-game hiatus in December, said the pain is most intense when he changes direction or speed.

"I'm worried because I don't play," Calderon said. "I want to play, always. When you are injured, you always think about your injury. I want to help the team and you can't help when you are behind the bench. But I know the rest is better."

Calderon said he was feeling better yesterday than he was on the final day of 2005.

The Raptors begin a stretch of five games in seven days tonight and are looking to win a third game in a row for the first time this season. They have a chance to rattle off a modest winning streak as their next three games are against struggling outfits -- the 7-21 Hawks, followed by home games against the Orlando Magic tomorrow and the Houston Rockets on Friday.

"Right now," Graham said, "we're just searching for a stretch of wins."


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