O'Neal returns to court

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

With his left ankle soaking in a large bucket of ice, Jermaine O'Neal didn't look ready to start a game about seven hours later. But he was good on his word to play the Nuggets last night after missing the past three games.

O'Neal had tried to rush a comeback from a strained left knee suffered against New Jersey on Nov. 21 and hurt his ankle in the process. He said the aborted attempt to play against Boston on Nov. 23 was "a wake-up call" to himself.

"I'm not 21 anymore," the 30-year-old O'Neal laughed. "You try to be a little bit smarter as you get older. You want to make the best decisions to help the team and not make an emotional one."

ARM STRENGTH

Jamario Moon wowed his teammates in a friendly football-tossing competition on the UCLA campus Monday. The one-time Harlem Globetrotter threw a football about 50 yards indoors and then tossed another 65 yards out on the field. At yesterday's shootaround, he tried a couple of over the shoulder throws from three-point land and almost sank one.

JOSE OK WITH KARL

When the Raptors are on the road, most opposing coaches gush about Chris Bosh. But Denver's George Karl, who ranks in the NBA's top 10 coaching fraternity in career wins, saved some praise for point guard Jose Calderon.

"He's a true point, he cares about the point," Karl said. "We talk about Chris Paul (New Orleans) and Deron Williams (Utah) and they deserve to be talked about and this kid's not very far behind them.

"Calderon is very John Stockton-like," Karl said, comparing the Raptor to the retired Utah legend. "Eighty per cent of his team's decisions are made by his pass. As an open shooter, he makes big-time shots. He puts his team first."


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