No matter how much T.J. Ford is able to contribute, the Toronto Raptors believe having him on the court will only make them better.
After seeing limited time in his first game back from a left arm stinger, Ford could have more of an impact as the Raptors try for a fourth straight victory over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
In his first game since Dec. 11, Ford had four points and four assists in almost 17 minutes of Toronto's 114-82 win at Miami on Wednesday.
Ford should provide good depth for the Raptors as he's eased back into action since colliding with Atlanta's Al Horford in that December contest where he had 26 points and eight assists.
The point guard, whose neck injury in February 2004 while with Milwaukee forced him to miss the 2004-05 season, averaged 14.1 points and 6.8 assists in 17 games before missing the next 24.
"It's about me getting back into a flow and the guys getting used to my style," Ford told the team's official Web site. "I don't think people expected me to come in and do the things that I normally do."
It's uncertain how Ford will be used with Jose Calderon averaging 14.5 points and 9.7 assists since Ford went down. It would seem the two together could only benefit the Raptors, one of five Eastern Conference teams with a winning record.
"(Ford's) fast and quick and he can get to that basket at will," said forward Chris Bosh, who had 24 points Monday. "He can find guys. Yes, Jose's been playing well, but imagine if you can have two guys playing at the same rate, splitting time. That's a good thing for us."
Ford has a chance to see more time Friday against the Clippers (15-31), who have lost three in a row in this series since a 115-113 overtime win in Toronto on Feb. 5, 2006. Ford has totaled 31 points and 16 assists in his last two appearances against them.
The Raptors are looking to build off Monday's win where they shot a season-high 59.5 percent from the field and went 10-for-19 from 3-point range.
"It would be hard for us to play much better," said Toronto coach Sam Mitchell, whose team has won nine of 13.
Bosh, named a reserve for the East in this month's All-Star game, went 8-for-11 from the field against the Heat and looks to continue his recent success against the Clippers on Friday.
He had 24 points and nine rebounds in Toronto's 80-77 win at Los Angeles on Dec. 18 in the teams' first meeting this season, and is averaging 26.0 points and 10.2 boards in his last five contests versus the Clippers.
Los Angeles lost 111-100 at league-best Boston on Wednesday to fall to 1-3 on its season-high seven-game road trip.
Corey Maggette had 33 points and eight rebounds, but the Clippers shot 41.1 percent two nights after a 103-94 win at New York snapped a nine-game road losing streak.
"It's not going to be easy on the road and we didn't make it easier for ourselves," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said after Wednesday's loss. "We did play hard. We got a ton of deflections. We did some good things. We kept fighting, scrapping our way back into it. We couldn't get enough guys to be hot."
It was just the second game back after missing four due to flu-like symptoms for Maggette, who had 22 points against Toronto in December. Maggette has made all 19 of his free throws since returning, and has missed only two of his last 48.