Rosy diagnosis

Jalen Rose injured his hand while scrambling for the ball during the Sunday's home win against the...

Jalen Rose injured his hand while scrambling for the ball during the Sunday's home win against the Los Angeles Lakers. An X-ray showed no broken bones. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

Lamps in Toronto have been spared.

On the day he was named NBA Eastern Conference player of the week, Raptors guard/forward Jalen Rose received a clean bill of health.

An X-ray on Rose's injured right (non-shooting) hand, which he hurt Sunday in a 108-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, came back negative yesterday. Just over a year ago, Rose broke his left hand, leading to a whole bunch of trouble for the Raptors, including then-coach Kevin O'Neill's infamous lamp smashing incident at a hotel upon hearing the news.

"It's a major sense of relief," said Rose, who practised without problems yesterday. "I went home (Sunday) and prayed about it and iced it. I woke up (yesterday) and the swelling was bad, but not too bad."

With Rose out of the lineup last season, the Raptors went 3-13, dropping them out of playoff contention after starting the campaign at 25-25.

Without Rose down the stretch this season, the Raptors probably could have kissed their slim playoff hopes goodbye.

"I know the kind of turn our season took last season when I broke my hand," he said.

Rose elevated his game this week, leading the Raptors to a 3-0 record while averaging 24.0 points on 26 of 47 shooting (.553). Rose is the second Raptor to earn the East player of the week honour this season. Chris Bosh did it last month.

"Jalen is a clutch player," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said of the team's leading scorer. "We put the ball in his hands and he's been making plays for us, whether it's scoring or making a pass.

"The thing I know about Jalen is he loves to play basketball. It shows every night he goes out and plays, and every practice, he goes out and practises hard. Jalen has been everything we've expected him to be and more."

Since returning to the starting lineup 13 games ago, Rose, 32, has topped the 20-point mark 10 times. Rose seems to compare himself to a fine wine.

BETTER WITH AGE

"I'm finding as you get up in years, you see guys my age with bodies breaking down," Rose said. "They have to miss a lot of games because of injury and some guys are missing seasons around my age. You see guys like Glenn Robinson going through what he's going or (Jamal) Mashburn or Allan Houston or Grant Hill. A lot of guys' bodies, unfortunately for them, are breaking down. I feel like I'm getting stronger."

So how long can Rose keep going?

"The younger they bring them in," he said, "the longer I'm going to stay around."

The Raptors begin a four-game trip tomorrow in San Antonio against the powerful Spurs.


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