T.J.: Jose should start

T.J. Ford announced that backcourt partner Jose Calderon should start every game at the point for...

T.J. Ford announced that backcourt partner Jose Calderon should start every game at the point for the rest of the season. SUN MEDIA/Alex Urosevic

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

T.J. Ford is one of the shortest players on the Raptors squad, but yesterday he stood quite tall.

Ford, who is rounding back to his old form after missing 31 games this season because of injury, diffused a potential controversy yesterday regarding the Raptors point guard situation by announcing that his backcourt partner Jose Calderon should start every game at the point for the rest of the season, and not himself -- a fairly large sacrifice to make considering that, injuries or not, Ford has been a starter for almost his entire NBA career.

"I think Jose is doing a good job as a starter, he should continue to start probably for the rest of the year," Ford said. "I don't think starting is a big deal to me, I just want to get out and help the team win, and at the end of the day it's all about wins and losses."

With Ford gone for much of this season because of problems related to his spinal stenosis condition, Calderon -- Ford's former understudy -- stepped up and established himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA, averaging 14.2 points and 9.6 assists as a starter.

And now with Ford back, head coach Sam Mitchell was going to have to make a decision whether to eventually make Ford the starter again or to maintain Calderon at the role, although Mitchell suggested after practice yesterday that Calderon likely will continue starting. Mitchell said having Ford back is a huge bonus for the Raptors, who take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at the ACC tonight.

"Jose had to play so many minutes when T.J. was out, (so) T.J. came back right at the nick of time," Mitchell said. "It takes some pressure off Jose. Now, Jose doesn't have to gut games out. He can play hard and when he's spent, boom, T.J. comes in. It gives Jose a chance to get his legs back."

Mitchell suggested that Ford's quickness and explosiveness to the basket suits the club's key backup players, such as Jason Kapono and Carlos Delfino, while the club's starters, including Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani, have gelled with Calderon.

"Now (coming off the bench), T.J. doesn't have to really worry about making sure Chris and Andrea and those guys get their touches," Mitchell said. "It gives him more freedom to create and look for scoring opportunities, and to play a little bit more free. Because with Chris on the floor, we play a little bit more structured."

Mitchell said having two quality point guards of such different styles makes it particularly difficult for opponents to prepare, like starting a game with a fastball pitcher and then bringing in a knuckler.

"T.J. and Jose are equally good, but in their own different way. And that's such a plus for us because when you game-planning for us, you're planning for Jose and then you have to try to do something different for when T.J. comes in," Mitchell said. "And the good thing is, they both understand their value. We play every other day until the end of March and we need everybody."


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