The James Johnson show continues to be the new hit show as he gets a big block and scores on the other end and ties the game at 2. Demar DeRozan the bucket and a foul and makes the and 1 giving Raptors a 7-5 lead with 9 to play in 1st. Bargnani missed on an open 3 but DeRozan scores and he has it going early. Johnson at the line ties the game up at 11. Calderon was off to a good start with 4 assists but then stuck a 3, maybe that will get his confidence going as a shooter. He was fouled as well and had a chance at the rare 4 point play. Made the free throw and he in only play is now 4 and 4 for the game. Demar was cooking early to a easy score in the paint and he has 7. Calderon matches his 7 with making another 3 and Un Dose..ETC was happening. Raptors as a result led 20-17 with 4 to play in 1st. Raptors off to a nice start 25-19 with just under 2 to play. Raptors brought it home and led 27-20 after 1. Shooting 52% and holding Hornets to just 38% a nice start for sure but they had one of those versus Dallas Right?
Jarrett Jack was in and Hornets got on a bit of a roll as Jack sticks a jumper to make this a 4 point game 29-25 still in favour of the Raptors. More Jack after a Raptor score as he kept it as a 4 point game. Jack in the box popping jumpers and the Raptors lead was down to 31-29. Jack was 4-4 and had 9 points and point to prove and game was tied at 35. Amir Johnson draws 2nd foul on Oakfor but could not drain the and 1 free throw but count the basket. Raptors kept battling and re-took the lead and Jack finally missed on a reverse lay-up with Raptors leading 43-39. Sonny Weems having a good night off the been which is good to see he had 10 off bench after a couple free throws. Fellow Young One for now Demar Derozan the turnaround in the paint and Raps had built up a 8 point lead on strength of a 10-2 run. Make that a 12 point lead and 14-2 run with buckets from DeRozan and Bargnani. Sonny Weems with a nice dunk in transition then after that Weems and Johnson came together both hit deck and Amir got the worst of it. Amir would get up as he always does and Raptors would keep chugging along and by the time halftime whistle blew lead 57-42 and closed half on a 20-5 run.
As the first half started so does the second with James Johnson with a nice spin and score. There was a crazy up and down pace to the start of this half and Raptors had a bit of slippage as a result with some silly mistakes. 61-49. Raptors were playing well and the Hornets just were not. Raptors were scrappy on defence but the Hornets were trying to crank it up to match. James Johnson is starting to convince me, I know am last to the party, but he hits a 3 and then a 2 and Raptors lead 70-53. Only down note was Bargnani but Jay gave him a seat on the bench where he belonged. The Raptors were playing good maybe even great defence without him. A late Marco 3 would make this a 10 point game though with the score 72-62 after 3.
Teams were trading baskets to start the 4th and the Raptors could live with that. But after a Bayless then Jack exchange of 2's a Weems miss gave Hornets the chance to cut lead to 6 and they did. Bargnani was back on the floor and Hornet took notice. He continued to struggle shooting and Hornets took it right at him on D. Bargnani remained in and scored out of the time out. Calderon has been better than good tonight he has been great. He makes a clutch 3 to get Raptors once shrinking lead back to 8. But Jack answers that with 2 straight buckets and it is a 4 point game. Landry scores and is fouled. Hornets after a time out would be able to make this a one point game.
Hornets miss the and 1 and Bargnani gets a bucket to get lead back to 4 points. Jose is having a retro performance and taking it at Jarrett Jack. Nails the jumper and hits it. Calderon was having the best game he has had in years a clutch lay-up in transition to make it a 90-84 Raptor lead with under 3 to play. Derizan bucket made it an 8 point lead. You remember me using this one in the blog. Marco....3-Ball, and it was and a 5 point game with 1:34 to play. It was a 4 point game with 40.3 to play. Raptors hang on to win it 96-90.
Full marks to Jose Calderon. In the post game interview he pointed to his poor performance vs Hornets earlier in year as his motivation. This was the best game by Jose Calderon in YEARS. He has had big stat nights that have hidden his struggles. But tonight he had the numbers and had the Mojo to hit some key shots for the Raptors. He had 22 points 16 assists and 7 rebounds. But more important than all that he showed leadership and clutchness on the floor. Clutchness may not be a legit word but Jose defined it tonight. I am not rushing out to buy a Calderon poster and still feel he is not the point guard for this team moving forward. But on this night he showed why he was able to be considered at one time a guy that could be an all-star. Will see if this confidence travels with him to London. Raptors as a team minus Bargnani played some excellent defence. If you are an Amir Johnson fantasy owner you are very happy with his insane 7 blocks as it was huge part of a Raptor block party with 11 total on the night. Raptors average just 4.3 blocks a game on the season. Raptors now are off to England for a Friday/Saturday double dip with the Nets.