Calderon hits growth spurt

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Sometimes the Raptors have trouble understanding what Jose Calderon is saying, so the Spanish point guard yesterday let his play do the talking.

The Raptors were forced to start Calderon at the point in the absence of the red-hot Mike James, who was forced to miss the game against the New York Knicks because of lower back spasms.

But the Raptors did not miss a beat without James, defeating New York, 129-103, thanks in no small part to the work of the rookie Calderon.

"I thought Jose really grew up tonight," said Morris Peterson, who scored a season-high 28 points. "He looked a little bit nervous before the game, but he calmed down and played well."

Calderon, who has missed three games in the past month because of a sore right heel, effectively ran the Raptors offence, picking up 13 points, shooting 5-for-6 from the field, while adding 10 assists, four rebounds and two steals. The 24-year-old logged a team-high 37 minutes.

A few more games like that and Calderon may join teammate Charlie Villanueva in the NBA rookie-of-the-year race.

Calderon was happy with his performance, but stressed that he would have more games like that if not for his sore heel.

"The last four to five games I play like I could early in the season (because) I can step down on my heel," he said. "I can defend good, I can play with the team.

"Today I feel more comfortable on the court.

"I need this game to get back confidence," Calderon added. "The most important thing is, without everybody (in the lineup), we can still play (winning basketball). Like a team."


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