Parker back in Knick of time

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is confident that AP will not be a DNP against the New York Knicks this afternoon.

The Raptors have struggled big time with starting shooting guard Anthony Parker out of the lineup.

Parker has missed six of the past nine Raptors game because of a sprained right ankle and, in those six games, Toronto has given up more than 105 points per game.

Parker has averaged 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists, but it's his defence that has made the difference. Mitchell generally matches Parker against the opposition's best offensive player.

Parker didn't play against the Houston Rockets on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre, a 114-100 loss, but was able to take part in a non-contact practice yesterday and is likely to start against the Knicks -- one of the teams the Raptors are attempting to bury in their quest for Atlantic Division honours, and a playoff spot for the first time since 2002.

"There's a reason why he starts," Mitchell said. "He has played well for us, he has been consistent and we miss his presence. He gives us some defence, some scoring and three-point shooting."

Parker acknowledges that he brings a defensive element to the Raptors that is missing when he is not in the lineup. On Friday against the Houston Rockets, his assignment would have been Tracy McGrady, who scored 24.

Parker, however, refuses to label himself as any kind of defensive saviour.

"Honestly, that Houston team just played a great game, inside and out and, again, I don't know if my presence on the floor would have mattered that much," he said. "I'd like to think so, but honestly, I don't know, with Tracy playing the way he did and Yao Ming and Rafer Alston, they all played pretty good."

Raptors' Chris Bosh said the 6-foot-6 Parker brings something to the shooting guard position that is hard to find.

"He's a big guy for his position, but he's quick enough to stay in front a lot of guys," Bosh said. "He's also a great help-side defender and you really can't just post him up like that. We had trouble with T-Mac in the post (on Friday). Anthony can guard him inside and out."

The injury news on backup point guard Jose Calderon was not so good. Calderon, who sprained his left ankle on Wednesday, was unable to practice yesterday and is doubtful for today's game, which means that veteran point guard Darrick Martin likely will get some minutes. Martin, who does not play very often and acts as an unofficial assistant coach in most games, came off the bench to score 10 points with four assists on Friday.

"Darrick's a pro, and that's the thing we talked about (at practice)," Mitchell said. "He doesn't complain about minutes, he doesn't complain when I put him on the inactive list. But when I call his name, he comes to work."


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