Wins lead to grins for Raps

Raptors point guard Jose Calderon laughs during fourth quarter action on Sunday. (Sun Media/Stan...

Raptors point guard Jose Calderon laughs during fourth quarter action on Sunday. (Sun Media/Stan Behal)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

The Raptors are no longer trying to pound square pegs into round holes. As a result, the foundation is steadying.

No one is saying a team that is 10 games under .500 is in the clear, but with almost everyone healthy -- and Jermaine O'Neal still aboard for now -- there are a few more post-game smiles.

Last night, a 113-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings provided extra grins. That's two wins in a row with coach Jay Triano's leaner, meaner rotation meshing perfectly. Three bigs -- starters Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and off-the-bench O'Neal -- wore down the Kings, Anthony Parker was the perfect tonic at point guard when Jose Calderon tired, and a four-man rotation of perimeter players -- Jamario Moon, Joey Graham, Jason Kapono and Parker -- added support.

"I think everybody is trying to help," Calderon said, after his second game without allowing a turnover and missing just four shots the past two starts off a hamstring injury. "We played well and I don't think it matters what the rotation is like."

Bosh, who was popping off at teammates in public last week for falling down on the job, had his first 30-point game since early in the month, winding up as the game's high scorer with 31. O'Neal managed a double-double in 22:17 and if he's out of sorts at being Bargnani's understudy he has not shown it or spoke of it.

"I told the coach even before I got back (from a slow-healing knee injury), don't drain your brain about who is going to start," O'Neal said. "I will do my job until I get better and if (coming off the bench) is the scenario, then that's the scenario."

Triano's game plan for the Kings unfolded as planned.

"We knew we wanted to go inside (with the three bigs)," he said. "They are a little bit depleted inside, so if we could get (Jason) Thompson and (Brad) Miller in foul trouble, they would have to go a little deeper in their bench.

"(Calderon and O'Neal) can slide back into their natural position. As a true point guard, Jose sees everybody on the floor, how everyone's being defended. Instead of having a guy who is new to the NBA or playing out of position who see one guy out there, Jose sees the whole floor. You try and keep one or two starters on the floor and one or two scorers and one or two rebounders, and hopefully the math adds up."

Bosh, Bargnani and O'Neal combined for 25 of the team's 43 rebounds.

"The games are going to get tougher as we go along, so we need to win the ones we're supposed to," said Bosh of beating lower-echelon Chicago and Sacramento and taking aim at Triano's first three-game win streak on Wednesday in New Jersey.

Before last night's game, Triano tossed an arbitrary figure of 25 minutes for Calderon and used him just more than 27. Bosh figured Calderon tried to rush his return earlier this month and that, combined with the inability of Will Solomon and Roko Ukic to master the position, led to more problems.

"We can't fatigue him," Triano warned. "He's been out and we don't want to fatigue the hamstring. We want him available late in the game."

But Parker, regularly a shooting guard, has been a pleasant surprise.

"It's comfortable for me to make that transition," Parker said. "We run different sets when I'm at point guard than if Jose's there. There are things he does that he's paid (good) money to do. "But at the point, it gives me freedom to rebound. I'm making a conscious effort to get in there and get some loose balls (seven rebounds last night) which has been a weakness of ours as a team."

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REPLAY

COLD OUTSIDE

After sinking seven of their first 10 three-point attempts, the Kings thought that would be their ticket to a big lead. However, they sank only four of 15 three-point tries in the rest of the game.

GIVING A MESSAGE

The Kings' Francisco Garcia gave Andrea Bargnani an extra shove after fouling him, which caused the two to get in each other's faces for a staring contest and required Joey Graham and Jermaine O'Neal to jump in as peacemakers. Garcia was assessed a technical foul.

LEAST VS. EAST

The Kings are winless in 18 games against Eastern Conference opponents this season.

BOXSCORE

SACRAMENTO FG FT Reb

Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Salmons 41:11 8-17 4-5 1-7 3 0 21

Thompson 35:03 6-12 0-0 2-6 0 5 12

Miller 29:48 5-6 3-4 1-3 2 5 15

Udrih 29:50 2-7 0-0 0-3 5 3 6

Martin 38:49 4-15 2-2 2-4 3 3 12

Garcia 22:12 6-10 4-4 0-1 3 2 18

Hawes 17:18 2-7 1-2 3-6 2 2 6

Brown 11:11 2-4 0-0 0-0 2 1 5

Moore 8:17 1-1 0-0 1-1 0 2 2

Jackson 6:21 0-4 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Totals 240:00 36-83 14-17 10-32 20 23 97

Percentages: FG .434, FT .824.

3-Point Goals: 11-25, .440 (Miller 2-2, Udrih 2-3, Garcia 2-5, Martin 2-6, Brown 1-1, Hawes 1-1, Salmons 1-6, Jackson 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 7. Team Turnovers: 13 (19 PTS).

Blocked Shots: 3 (Hawes 2, Thompson).

Turnovers: 12 (Salmons 4, Hawes 2, Martin 2, Udrih 2, Miller, Thompson).

Steals: 5 (Garcia 3, Salmons, Udrih).

Technical Fouls: Garcia, 1:33 third.

TORONTO FG FT Reb

Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Moon 17:42 2-3 0-0 1-2 1 0 5

Bosh 37:30 12-22 7-8 2-8 1 1 31

Bargnani 32:35 7-14 8-10 0-7 0 3 24

Calderon 27:22 6-9 3-3 0-1 8 2 16

Parker 38:52 5-10 0-0 2-7 7 1 11

Kapono 21:12 2-4 0-0 0-0 1 3 4

O'Neal 22:17 4-6 3-4 2-10 2 0 11

Graham 30:18 1-5 2-2 2-6 1 5 4

Ukic 6:45 2-3 0-0 1-1 0 1 5

Jawai 1:49 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Voskuhl 1:49 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 1 0

Solomon 1:49 0-1 2-2 0-0 0 0 2

Totals 240:00 41-78 25-29 10-43 21 18 113

Percentages: FG .526, FT .862.

3-Point Goals: 6-10, .600 (Bargnani 2-4, Moon 1-1, Ukic 1-1, Calderon 1-2, Parker 1-2).

Team Rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: 13 (20 PTS).

Blocked Shots: 5 (Bosh 2, Bargnani, O'Neal, Parker).

Turnovers: 13 (Bosh 4, O'Neal 3, Parker 3, Bargnani 2, Graham).

Steals: 7 (Parker 3, Graham 2, Bargnani, Calderon).

Technical Fouls: None.

Sacramento 28 25 21 23-- 97

Toronto 26 30 31 26-- 113

Att. at Air Canada Centre -- 18,127 (19,800). T--2:18.

Officials--Sean Corbin, Eli Roe, Leon Wood.

NEXT UP

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at New Jersey, TSN2, Fan 590.


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