Parker makes his mark

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

When Jay Triano put out an APB to find the elusive winning rotation his team sought, who better to respond than A.P.?

Asked to hold down two jobs, starting shooting guard and backup to recovering point guard Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker's worth to the Raptors soared last week in back-to-back wins.

"We're always encouraging him to do more," Triano said after Sunday's 113-97 win over the Sacramento Kings. "There's a little more versatility for him. We ran a play three times in a row and he looked at three different options coming off it. That's pretty good basketball savvy. We needed that when Jose was out of the game."

Calderon, who rushed a return from a hamstring injury earlier this month with poor consequences for himself and the team, has come along slower this time, playing under 30 minutes in decisions against Chicago and Sacramento. With the aid of the team's first 48-hour break from playing since Christmas, Calderon hopes to get further treatment and play even more tomorrow in New Jersey.

"It's not like the right hamstring is bothering me, but it's (trying to compensate with the other side of the body)," Calderon said. "You can go one speed all the way, but you can't change, you can't accelerate. That's the worst part for me."

Both Calderon and Triano peppered Parker with tips on playing point guard, after it became clear that splitting the job between Roko Ukic and Will Solomon wasn't working.

"Not like advice, but just to tell him you don't have to always try to make the best play ever," Calderon said. "Take care of the ball and run the plays you know. He's playing (quality) minutes, Roko's playing minutes ... we don't know how it's going to be from here until next week, but we have to keep working like a team."

Triano wanted Parker to think more offensively.

"Think score all the time," Triano urged. "You can always become a passer when they take that away. You think score, you can make something else happen. "When you have injuries, different guys can step up and prove what they can and can't do. Anthony has shown we're a pretty good team with him as point guard. We're a big team, we can do a few different things where we post him up on certain plays."

Parker, who has struggled a couple of years to find consistency as an NBA winger after five years of club ball in Israel, is thrilled to be making a new kind of contribution, but knows Calderon is the team's engine and will be back to full steam in the coming weeks.

"It's comfortable for me to make that transition for the time being," the 33-year-old said. "You see the difference when Jose's back. Jose and Chris Bosh have a good chemistry and he's playing with confidence. You see that fire. (In Chicago), he was the difference down the stretch and we've been at that (crucial) point so many times in the last seven, eight, nine games, but couldn't get over the hump."

There is also peace for the present with the Jermaine O'Neal situation, another injured star now trying to get back, but rumoured to be on the way out via trade. Yet he's been a huge addition off the bench the past two games in support of Andrea Bargnani.

"We've been through some difficult times," O'Neal said. "Now we have Jose back, me back, Andrea's playing great and C.B. is C.B. We want to get over the hump and get back some of those games that we let get away."


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