Raptors hold on to beat Nets

Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh goes to the net against New Jersey Nets' Kris Humphries.  (REUTERS/Mark...

Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh goes to the net against New Jersey Nets' Kris Humphries. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 PM ET

On a day when Jarrett Jack was feeling under the weather, leave it to a guy named Sonny to brighten the forecast.

There’s so much room for Sonny Weems to grow, but there’s also so much to like.

Like a lot of young NBA players, Weems is prone to disappear in games, make bad decisions and take ill-advised shots.

But he’s athletic, emerging and it’s unlikely the Raptors would have avoided the embarrassment of losing to a New Jersey Nets team threatening to rewrite the NBA’s record books for futility had Weems not step up.

There was a stretch during Wednesday’s opening half at the Air Canada Centre when Toronto’s faithful booed the home side.

They had every reason to show their displeasure given how indifferent Toronto’s hoopsters played and how passive they defended.

The Raptors turned a 12-point lead into an 11-point disadvantage in the blink of an eye and an air of anxiety was palpable inside the ACC.

Cue Weems, who helped ignite a 27-14 run that carried the Raptors to their 108-99 win.

During an explosive sequence, Weems took a Jack inbounds pass and flushed home a thunderous dunk.

He later took a pass from Chris Bosh in transition and produced a finger-roll lay-in that was very reminiscent of Vince Carter’s high-wire days in Toronto.

Then came another dunk, following yet another Jack dish.

“Sonny was the momentum changer," Jack said. “He had a career game and I think Sonny wants to frame the basketball.”

The Raptors slowly are starting to understand how to use Weems, who has been thrust into the starting role in the wake of DeMar DeRozan’s ankle injury.

He is prone to be ineffective, which speaks to his youth and inexperience, but there’s talent and potential and moments of explosiveness.

A night earlier, Weems went scoreless in Indiana, struggling with his shot and struggling to defend Danny Granger.

But to his credit, Weems rebounded by posting his first career double-double (14 points and 11 rebounds) in helping the Raptors bounce back from a bad loss to the Pacers.

“It just feels good," Weems beamed. “Give a lot of credit to Jarrett, who sucked it up and played like a true warrior.”

The Raptors are bent on returning DeRozan to the starting unit once the rookie returns, which could be as early as Sunday.

Depth is a good thing to have, especially at this point of the season when the Raptors are thin and getting thinner.

The question that can’t be answered is how will head coach Jay Triano manage minutes and more importantly massage egos.

Jack has been the starter for 28 straight games and there’s no way, barring an injury, does he go back as a backup.

Jose Calderon, who missed Wednesday’s meeting because of a sprained right ankle, hasn’t said a disparaging word. Then again, how can he and maintain this image of a team-first player.

Without Hedo Turkoglu for the second night in a row, Antoine Wright started at small forward and responded by posting a season-high 18 points.

The Raptors can ride out this injury storm, but doling out minutes will be an issue.

At least on Wednesday, the outlook was Sonny.

Without Calderon and Jack’s status not determined until literally minutes before tipoff because of a viral infection, Triano was faced with the real possibility of having to start seldom-used Marcus Banks and go with Marco Belinelli as the backup point guard after Belinelli started at shooting guard on Tuesday.

Jack, given his physical discomfort, was predictably slow in the game’s early minutes against the Nets.

He persevered, though, as the game unfolded and was very productive when he became assertive.

“I just decided to go as hard as I can for however long," Jack said. “Adrenalin carried me through the night.”

Jack arrived at the ACC five hours before tipoff and consulted with the team’s medical staff.

When he woke up on Wednesday, he knew something was amiss.

“I just felt drained, I couldn’t eat," Jack explained. “I don’t know what happened.”

What happened on the court was a testament to Jack’s fighting spirit.

Maybe he should feel under the weather more often.

When a team’s floor general is efficient, distributing the basketball and protecting the rock, you’re not going to lose.

Jack made sure of it and Weems punctuated the point.


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