Add tight defense to a triple-double, and it was quite a game for Jose Calderon.
Calderon had 18 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds to lead short-handed Toronto over the Houston Rockets 103-96 Sunday, giving the Raptors consecutive wins for the first time in eight long months.
Calderon started for the third straight game in place of the injured Kyle Lowry, who has a tear in his right triceps.
The 31-year-old Spanish guard, who’s the longest serving Raptor, has been a perennial backup in Toronto.
”I made up my mind, I want to be the most professional player in the NBA. I don’t know if I’m going to be on the court or not but I want this team to win,” he said.
”This is my team, this is what I’ve been doing for eight years now, and that’s what I do. I know my teammates know that, there’s the trust behind it, it’s really comfortable to play with these guys,” he said.
Calderon also held Rockets guard Jeremy Lin to just seven points and two assists.
”Huge,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Calderon’s game. ”He’s a solid pro. I love him, he’s going to win a lot of basketball games for you. Defensively, he did a solid job on Lin. I just can’t say enough about Jose.”
The Rockets have now lost seven straight on the road, a stretch that goes back to Nov. 2. It’s their worst road losing streak since they dropped eight straight in 2001.
”It was a disappointing one,” Lin said. ”We obviously didn’t get the win and I don’t think we played particularly well. Not the best feeling.”
Lin had plenty of fans in the Air Canada Centre crowd cheering him on. He was in the midst of ”Linsanity” on a previous trip to Toronto last February, draining a 3 at the buzzer to lead the New York Knicks to a victory over the Raptors.
The Raptors played their third consecutive game without second- and third-leading scorers Andrea Bargnani and Lowry. Bargnani is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his right elbow and a strained right wrist, while Lowry has a tear in his right triceps.
Alan Anderson had 24 points, while DeMar DeRozan added 19 points for the Raptors, who hadn’t won consecutive games since April 13 and 15 of last season.
Ed Davis added 13 points for Toronto.
James Harden scored 28 points for the Rockets, while Marcus Morris added 19.
The Raptors took a 77-71 lead into the fourth quarter, and stretched their advantage to nine points. But Houston made for some tense moments late in the game, cutting Toronto’s lead to four points with a couple of minutes to go.
Carlos Delfino made two baskets in the final 1:04 against his former team to pull the Rockets to within two points, but Calderon sunk two free throws to put Toronto back up by four.
The teams traded free throws for most of the final minute. Harden, last season’s Sixth Man award winner for Oklahoma City, drained a pair, Anderson went to the line to sink two, and then Chandler Parsons missed one of two with 13 seconds left.
Anderson scored on a driving reverse layup with 11 seconds to go to seal the victory for Toronto.
NOTES: The Rockets beat Toronto 117-101 last month. . . The Rockets wore a green stripe on their jerseys in memory of coach Kevin McHale’s daughter Sasha, who died last month of lupus at the age of 23. Green was her favorite color. . . Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas was presented with the Lithuanian player of the year award from Lithuanian legend Arvydas Sabonis before tipoff. . . The Raptors are in Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Tuesday. They return home to host Detroit on Wednesday and Orlando on Friday.