T.J. Ford finding groove

Toronto Raptors guard T.J. Ford drives past Charlotte Bobcats center Ryan Hollins in Charlotte,...

Toronto Raptors guard T.J. Ford drives past Charlotte Bobcats center Ryan Hollins in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, March 31, 2008. (APChuck Burton)

FRANK ZICARELLI

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

While far from playing at his highest level, T.J. Ford is nonetheless playing better as a starter than he did when he was coming off the bench.

Ford was arguably at his absolute best during Toronto's visit to Dixie on Dec. 11, when he was sent to the floor and later to a local hospital courtesy of an Al Horford flagrant foul.

Ford and the Raptors make their return to Philips Arena tonight in what should be a very good matchup between two teams that can flat-out score.

It also marks the first time the Raptors will face Mike Bibby as a Hawk.

During his days with Sacramento, Bibby often would torch the Raptors and always found a way to make late-game plays.

"Atlanta is a good test for us," Ford said. "We're coming off a road win (in Charlotte) and we want to keep this rolling."

One gets the feeling that Ford can get off his shot any time he wants, but he seems to be making a conscious effort to get his teammates involved.

On Monday, Ford took only 12 shots, draining six, in posting 16 points. He recorded a team-high seven assists, including a couple of alley-oop passes Jamario Moon flushed home.

In Ford's past five games, he is shooting 56.5% from the field.

ROOKIE ROLL CALL

Horford was named Eastern Conference rookie of the month for March yesterday by averaging 11.9 points and 8.7 rebounds.

Moon has played well in his rookie campaign, but Horford has clearly separated himself from the freshman pack in the East.

Bench Stench

Both teams enter tonight's tip coming off games where the reserves were non-existent.

Toronto's second unit produced seven points, while Atlanta's reserves nearly frittered away a 38-point lead.


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