The point guard tandem of Calderon and T.J. Ford wanted to set the tone for the new season, and they did just that while leading the defending Atlantic Division champions to a 106-97 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
“T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon did great,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. “If you look at their stat line, it was unbelievable.”
Ford had 14 points and 12 assists, while Calderon had 13 points and four assists. They each had just one turnover.
“I think that’s how it has to be all year,” Ford said. “When we play well, the guys are able to get open and guys will continue to have that confidence.”
The Sixers cut a 22-point, third-quarter deficit to 14 heading into the fourth quarter, then pulled to 90-89 on a running jump shot by Iguodala with 4:47 left.
Bargnani answered with a 3-pointer and was fouled by Samuel Dalembert. Bargnani made the free throw for just the 14th four-point play in franchise history. That put Toronto back up by five.
“They were an important four points,” Bargnani said. “I received a very nice pass, I was hoping it would come to me and I was a little lucky.”
Bosh had a decent night, despite a left knee injury that limited him to 15 minutes combined over the final two preseason games and kept him out of the previous three games completely.
The All-Star forward was 5-for-10 from the field, his alley-oop dunk from Calderon in the second quarter bringing the sellout crowd of 19,800 to its feet.
“It felt good to be back out there, but I’m not up to 30 minutes a game yet, so I just have to be patient with the whole situation,” Bosh said.
With Bargnani leading the way, the Raptors shot 49 percent, but the Sixers outrebounded Toronto 47-35 and grabbed a couple of key boards in the final few minutes.
Dalembert finished with four points and six rebounds. The Sixers center played just one preseason game because of a stress fracture in his foot.
The Raptors led 24-22 heading to the second quarter, then used a 17-4 run to lead 58-50 at halftime.
“We put ourselves in such a hole down 22 points,” Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. “Toronto is a good basketball team the way they spread the floor and kick the ball to different players.”
Bargnani had seven points in the third, including a layup with 6:04 left in the quarter that gave Toronto a 22-point lead. The Sixers outscored Toronto 12-4 to the end of the quarter, cutting the Raptors’ lead to 81-67 heading into the fourth.
The Raptors handed out several awards before the game: Bosh for all-NBA second team, and Jorge Garbajosa and Bargnani as all-rookie first team. Mitchell was honored for being named Coach of the Year, and GM Bryan Colangelo as NBA executive of the year. … A vocal group of Toronto FC fans occupied a section of the arena.