Calderon makes triumphant return

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:35 PM ET

TORONTO - Welcome back Jose Calderon.

The longest-serving Raptor got back into the lineup after a four-game absence and looked like he had never left, posting 15 points and 14 assists in one of his most dominant efforts of the season.

Calderon had eight assists and one turnover in the second half as the Raptors battled back from a 48-42 halftime deficit and a 71-62 New Jersey lead after three.

When asked what having Calderon back to lead the offence meant to the team, guard DeMar DeRozan said simply: “You saw it. He gets everyone the ball where they want it.”

Calderon hit a crucial three to give the Raptors the lead in the fourth quarter during a stretch where Toronto answered a 7-0 Nets run with and 8-0 streak of their own.

Demar struggles

DeRozan continued his recent streak of aggressive play, but his short game could use a little work.

DeRozan missed a couple of chip-shots early and struggled to get into a groove.

The sophomore was just 4-for-15 from the field through three quarters and finished 5-for-16. DeRozan said his dunk to seal the game felt good because he knew he’d start making some easy shots.

Backup struggles

A move back to the bench didn’t agree with Jerryd Bayless. Bayless who had some outstanding moments in place of incumbent starter Calderon, saw his minutes drastically cut with the Spaniard playing well.

While Calderon notched a double-double, Bayless failed to make an impact offensively, though he looked solid on defence.

Bayless played just 14 minutes, scoring a basket and adding an assist.

Block party

New Jersey centre Brook Lopez didn’t have much success putting the ball in the basket in the first quarter, missing 3-of-4 shots, but he did a good job of preventing the Raptors from filling it up. Lopez blocked three shots in the first but one of his victims, Andrea Bargnani paid him back later in the frame.

Lopez finished with four blocks to Bargnani’s two.

Not shooting stars

The two teams combined for 39% shooting from the field in the first quarter.

Nets guard Jordan Farmar was a particularly ghastly 1-for-7 at the half.

Farmar went 0-for-3 in the third and he and fellow ex-Laker Sasha Vujacic combined for 7-for-24 for the game including 1-for-9 from three.

Over the hump

Former Raptor Kris Humphries is doing extremely well in New Jersey.

Humphries is starting and leads the team in double-doubles and dating reality star Kim Kardashian.

Nets assistant coach Sam Mitchell, who had a soft spot for the Minneapolis, Minn., native when he coached him with the Raptors, is happy with the job Humphries is doing.

“Hump is doing well. We’re proud of the way Kris Humphries has played,” Mitchell said.

“It just goes to show you he came in the league as a young player and being a veteran and developing and understanding his niche and his role — he is making the best of his opportunity.”

No love for Sam

The Raptors did not recognize Mitchell at all on his first trip back to the ACC since being fired back in 2008.

It was an odd move, considering Mitchell led the team to its only Atlantic Division title and won coach of the year while in Toronto.

The Maple Leafs honour people for much, much less, but Mitchell was never general manager Bryan Colangelo’s guy (not hired on his watch) and, as the team pointed out it, never honoured Lenny Wilkens either.

The difference though, is that Wilkens mailed in most of his tenure here, while Mitchell — who definitely had his flaws — gave his all, made a mark and was deserving of a mention.

“It’s hard to honour an (opposing) coach,” Calderon said. “But they’ll do it someday.”


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