Ford, Calderon help Raptors stave off MagicApr 25, 2008 - 3:57 AM By Brian Herman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
TORONTO (Ticker) -- T.J. Ford scored 21 points as the Toronto Raptors used their home crowd to spur them on to a 108-94 victory over the Orlando Magic in Game Three of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Thursday.
Jose Calderon collected 18 points and 13 assists and rookie Jamario Moon had 11 and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who trail the Magic, 2-1, in the best-of-seven matchup. Orlando edged Toronto, 104-103, in an exciting Game Two on Tuesday.
It was a different story in this one.
"Today was the most important game of the season so far, and we played like it and stepped up to the challenge," Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. "We had a lot of energy tonight. Jamario did a fantastic job. We were really scrapping and had some big steals and made some good blocks and most importantly we got rebounds. Our defense was good."
Before the series began, much of the talk surrounded the edge provided by the Raptors' backcourt duo of Ford and Calderon. The talk became reality as the duo badly outplayed Magic guards Jameer Nelson and Maurice Evans.
"I thought the story for them (Raptors) was really their point-guard play, and we are going to need a much better performance," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Nelson collapsed in the locker room after the game with excruciating back pain. He apparently was suffering from back spasms, causing him to score just six points on 2-of-8 shooting.
A layup Keith Bogans to open the fourth quarter brought the Magic within nine points at 80-71.
But Jason Kapono continued his hot shooting in this series for Toronto off the bench in the fourth quarter. Kapono connected on the third of his three 3-pointers at 3:21 to help Toronto regain an insurmountable, 100-82, advantage.
"The back-to-back Kapono threes, that was the back-breaker that ended it," Van Gundy said. "We just have not been able to stop him."
Ford and Moon used the energy of the boisterous Raptors' crowd to spark a 22-5 run to give Toronto a 24-11 advantage with 3:34 to go in the first quarter.
"I didn't know this place could get that loud, you could feel the floor shaking a little bit," Moon said.
Moon paced the Raptors in the first, finishing with eight points while Ford and Anthony Parker each chipped in seven as Toronto ended the quarter leading, 28-20.
"I was getting looks in the first two games, but they weren't falling and tonight I was making them," Ford said. "I was trying to be aggressive and go at Jameer the way he's been coming at me."
Dwight Howard, who battled foul trouble for much of the game, continued to dominate the Raptors inside - finishing the quarter with 13 points and five rebounds.
Calderon came off the bench to help Toronto stretch its lead by nailing three shots from the arc to give the Raptors a 44-26 edge at the 5:18 mark.
Ford re-entered the game near the three-minute mark and was able to score eight consecutive points coupled with a fast-break dunk by Bosh to give Toronto a 61-40 advantage at the break.
"I just told T.J. to be aggressive," Bosh said. "He knows, he's a very, very good player and he played like it today."
Rashard Lewis scored 12 points and Keyon Dooling added eight as Orlando shot 58 percent for the third quarter to trail 80-69 heading into the final period.
"Most definitely we have control. We are up two-games-to-one and we are still confident that we can come into this building and win a game, and that is what we are going to do on Saturday," Lewis said.
Bosh, who struggled with his shooting early in the game, finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists for Toronto.
Howard finished with 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Magic.
TORONTO 108 FINAL
Apr 24 9:58 PM
TORONTO 80 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 24 9:25 PM
TORONTO 61 HALFTIME
Apr 24 8:41 PM
TORONTO 28 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 24 8:07 PM
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