Calderon scare dulls deserving win

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

One minute, the crowd is jazzed, the music is thumping, the adrenalin pumping. The home team is seconds from a resounding victory and the mood is all party, all the time.

And then there is a guy lying face down on the floor not moving and the trainers and paramedics are mobilized in the low post. Suddenly, you could whisper and be heard by somebody on the other side of the arena.

When life decides to intrude so rudely on the toy world, it can make even the august NBA appropriately trivial by comparison.

One second, Jose Calderon was high in the air, looking for a rebound with 33 seconds left. The next, he was in a bad way on the floor after a twisting fall that left him in some serious pain and his teammates more than a little shaken.

The good news is that medical reports are calling a bruised lower back. Calderon was "neurologically intact" when he left the ACC, according to a Raptors spokesman, and had movement in all his limbs.

SUBDUED ROOM

That news was received with relief in the subdued Raptors' locker room but even then there was little enthusiasm for discussion about Toronto's 120-115 victory over the Golden State Warriors that leaves them a half-game out of first place in the Atlantic Division.

"The game, as important as it is, is not more important than Jose," said coach Sam Mitchell. "I think our players are a little shook . Jose means a lot to us. This is our job, this is what we do, but we as individuals, as people, are more important than basketball.

"We're just hoping that he's okay. The guys competed hard and right now the basketball game is secondary. "

The injury came near the conclusion of a game where just about everybody who played, stepped up in one way or another. This was in stark contrast to last Sunday's dismal effort against the lowly Portland Trailblazers when the Raptors, without their star Chris Bosh, appeared to be waiting for somebody else to provide the energy.

A week later, the Raps are taking a three-game win streak on the road and playing some of the best team basketball of the last few years.

Six players, led by Peterson's 23 points, scored in double figures. T.J. Ford had 21, Anthony Parker, Jose Garbajosa and rookie Andrea Bargnani each had 18, while centre Rasho Nesterovic had 13, his most prolific game as a Raptor.

Ford, Bargnani and Garbajosa each had double-doubles, while Peterson came within one rebound of joining them. Bargnani also came within four blocks of his first triple-double.

"That's what we need," said Peterson. "That's what coach has been talking about all season. More than two players showing up every game. You look at our bench. Andrea came out and almost had a triple double. We got after them defensively. We made some things happen and our offensive came around. We've been talking all year about not being able to put things together but when we needed stops we got stops and when we needed to make a play, we made a play."

With Ford taking charge of the offence, distributing the ball, scoring and being an all-round floor leader and Bargnani emerging more quickly than anyone had a right to expect; with Garbajosa and Parker playing like the veterans they are, even though they're each in their first NBA seasons; and with Nesterovic providing more of a presence down low than most expected, this recent three-game run has to be very satisfying for general manager Bryan Colangelo, who is now seeing some of the pieces to the puzzle coming together.

Those thoughts, however, were far from Colangelo's mind late yesterday.

After the game, he was wearing the same anguished expression, fearing for Calderon's well-being as he passed through the locker room without speaking.

The uncertainty made, no doubt, for a quiet plane ride to Phoenix last night for the start of a four-game western swing this week.

"Jose's one of our brothers," said Mo Peterson. "Any time we lose one of our brothers, a guy who you go into battle with every day, it's always hard to see him down there like that."

REPORT CARD

A Offence: The Raps recorded season-highs in both points and three-point percentage (10-for-20 for 50%). Morris Peterson went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc.

B Defence: While the Warriors scored a lot of points, the Raptors controlled the game. Andrea Bargnani's six blocks, the most by a Raptor since 2004-05, loomed large.


Videos

Photos