Certain players always seem to play better in certain venues and the reasons are not always obvious, if they exist at all.
On Friday night, Jose Calderon returned to some very friendly surroundings in New Orleans, not that there is any reason for the Spanish national to find a city in Louisiana a comfortable place to play.
But perhaps surprisingly, the Toronto Raptors have enjoyed their trips to New Orleans in recent years. And with a Friday night 107-90 victory, have now taken three of the past four games played against Chris Paul and company on their home floor.
In his rookie season Jose Calderon didn’t get much of an opportunity to find out just how nice a place New Orleans would be to play in as Mike James played 40 plus minutes for the Raptors that night in a losing effort.
But the Mike James experiment soon ended. Next season saw Calderon split minutes with TJ Ford and the love affair with the Big Easy was about to commence.
In just 22 minutes on November 26, 2006, Calderon went five of ten from the field for 13 points to go with four assists, three rebounds, and a steal.
It was the start of beautiful relationship. The kind of bond that gives players the confidence to break out of scoring slumps and turn around the rough spots in one’s season.
Over the past four trips to New Orleans, Jose Calderon has averaged 15.5 points, 8.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals. And he did this shooting 55 percent from the field and 42 percent from three. Jose must have been really looking forward to Friday night’s game!
To say Jose Calderon had gotten off to a slow start in the current season would be an understatement. Calderon was shooting just 38 percent from the field and 20 percent from three before the game in New Orleans. A 9.8 point, 5.3 assist, 2 rebound, and 0.8 steal line over four games was well below the standard expected from Jose Calderon.
Even though the season was only four games old, there were already calls to give more minutes to this year’s backup point guard Jarrett Jack. Some were even calling for Jack to start. Apparently some fans and a significant number of TV analysts and scribes have very short memories and very little patience.
Although the coaching staff had never shown any lack of faith in Calderon’s ability to run the team or in his shot’s eventual return to form, those calling for his replacement after what he had gone through last season had to hurt.
Fortunately New Orleans remains the Big Easy for Jose Calderon to play in. The Friday night game produced another 16 point, 8 assists, 4 rebound, plus a steal evening for Calderon. Hitting on six of eleven from the field and two of his four three-pointers.
Some analysts might even find it challenging to blame Jose for Chris Paul’s 21-point and 18 assist night that occurred in the blow out loss to Toronto. Of course Chris Paul had only been averaging 30 points and eight assists before the game so someone out there will likely still be able to find something to complain about.
But for just a moment Jose Calderon can enjoy his return trip to the Big Easy, as he rushes off to Dallas for the second half of this back-to-back, confident that he’s found his shooting stroke again.
By now Jose probably wishes New Orleans was an Eastern Conference team!