Bench booster

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

The Raptors have proven they can win the odd game without Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon in the lineup, but coach Jay Triano does not wish to validate the theory any longer than needed.

Both injured players likely will sit again for today's game against the hot Orlando Magic, though the team feels a lot better about its chances against Dwight Howard after swarming Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets on Friday. Toronto conjured the perfect storm on defence to beat the Rockets by 21 and keep them to 34% shooting.

"Our guys who don't get a chance to play and suddenly do, they relish that opportunity," Triano said. "And when you have a system, they know exactly what their role is going to be. They've learned through video and I give them credit. It's not easy to sit on the bench, not play and then get thrown in."

Calderon went for an MRI yesterday on a right hamstring injury, while O'Neal tried to rest a swollen knee. Triano wasn't optimistic about either man being ready, more concerned about point guard Calderon as O'Neal's swelling decreases.

"We have to find out what's wrong," Triano said of the hamstring problem that has lingered since early in the season.

Calderon was optimistic he would be back soon, with a two-game road trip to Milwaukee and Washington looming this week. He left in the first quarter of Friday night's game. "It's not the same (severity), that's why I'm more positive," Calderon said. "I feel much better today, but it depends on the MRI."

Triano normally would have taken it easy on the team yesterday, but with the jumbled roster, the quality of opposition and the success of a detailed workout on Thursday, the team went almost 90 minutes yesterday at the ACC.

"We don't have enough good practice time not to go hard," Triano said. "And if it costs us a bit of our legs (today), but we get better down the road, then we have to do that."

Centre/forward Andrea Bargnani will get the same assignment against Howard he did Friday against Yao.

"(Howard) is a big guy playing in the low post and he has a job to do, so do your work early," Triano said of Bargnani and Jake Voskuhl. "Andrea will have to get back and help out on the screen quicker, but I think Andrea has played well since our Christmas break."

The Magic, a 26-7 team with players such as Hedo Turkoglu helping Howard, will be a handful.

"Every team doesn't have a Yao Ming, so we have to mix it up every other night," Joey Graham said. "But we played our roles perfectly (Friday)."

Voskuhl hoped the win brings some staying power.

"We had to beat a team that was good," he stated flatly. "We were losing to some teams we probably should beat. But (Friday) night was a huge step.

"I don't think anyone doubts we have a talented team, but we have to get our confidence, our mojo if you will. It would be nice for us to get on a five or six-game win streak and get things jump-started."


Videos

Photos