Raps large and in charge

Will Solomon, starting in place for the injured Jose Calderon, had 15 points and 11 assists against...

Will Solomon, starting in place for the injured Jose Calderon, had 15 points and 11 assists against the Heat. (Sun Media/Dave Thomas)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Jose Calderon was in a suit and tie instead of the starting lineup and big man Andrea Bargnani squeezed into the small forward's role.

But the Raptors were none the worse for the first lineup change of the season in a 107-96 win over the Miami Heat at the ACC yesterday.

Calderon gave a shrug at the half when a reporter asked if his 'mild' strained hamstring would be good enough to play during this week's back-to-back games in Orlando and Miami, but Will Solomon was already on his way to easing fears about his ability as a short-term fix.

Solomon, who previously started a game six years ago during an NBA cameo with the Memphis Grizzlies, had a career-high 11 assists and completed his first career double-double with 15 points.

After four losses in five games, coach Sam Mitchell started dropping hints on Friday that he would replace Jamario Moon in the starting lineup. The coach then acted on an off-season suggestion by general manager Bryan Colangelo that Bargnani could give the team a triple-tower threat with Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal.

All three wreaked havoc yesterday, Bosh with a game-high 27 points, O'Neal his third straight strong game with 18 rebounds and Bargnani with 12 points and four rebounds. The icing on the cake for Mitchell was Moon coming off the bench for five rebounds and four assists, with two points. The Raptors had eight men scoring in double figures.

"When we had to set up, we got the ball to the people who we wanted to," Mitchell said. "Will did a good job pushing the ball and getting it into spots. Andrea gave us a lift to start the game because he was scoring and was really aggressive with the ball. Every day (Jermaine) is going to get better."

Guarding, the big worry with Bargnani playing at small forward, was not a problem on this day and he combined with Bosh and O'Neal to mess up the Miami matchups, though Dwyane Wade still broke through for 29 points and eight assists. Miami tested the Raptors' will until well into the fourth quarter.

"That's what we have to do every night," said O'Neal, who was able to overcome his 4-for-14 short circuit with his defence. "You can't shoot badly and not play defence, that's the worst combination possible."

52 REBOUNDS

The Raptors, who improved to 5-4, had a season-high 52 rebounds, 36 defensively.

"I'll forget about that stat by the morning," said Mitchell, who had demanded a better showing by his team in that area before the game and still wants them to concentrate on it this week.

Mitchell also was concerned at the Raptors turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 24 of the Heat's points, but much of that came early in the game with Solomon trying to get comfortable.

While Solomon might be watching Calderon from the bench in Orlando tomorrow, Mitchell indicated Bargnani is going to be in the starting five for a bit.

"He adds a little bit of everything," Mitchell said. "We're going to give him an opportunity to play. With Andrea, Jermaine and Chris on the court, it should open up some room for Hump (Kris Humphries, who added 14 points off the bench)."

Solomon's last assist of the night might have been his best, a skip pass to Bosh through traffic under the post.

"Once those guys get the ball, good things happen," Solomon said.

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REPLAY

STREAKS SNAPPED

Until Will Solomon was inserted yesterday, the previous time someone other than T.J. Ford or Jose Calderon started for Toronto at point guard was April 7, 2006, when Mike James opened against Indiana.

Calderon's strained hamstring halted his consecutive games' run at 106. Anthony Parker takes the ironman title at 91 games. The previous time Calderon didn't play was March 21, 2007.

TROOP MOVEMENT

The Raptors honoured 100 members of the Canadian Forces before yesterday's game, recognizing Rear Admiral Denis Rouleau, while Second Lieutenant Cpl Scott Newlands sang the anthem.

NEXT UP

Tomorrow -- 7 p.m., at Orlando Magic, Score, Fan 590.


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