Forgetting Carter

Jose Calderon (left) and Jorge Garbajusa. (Fred Thornhill photo/Topronto Sun)

Jose Calderon (left) and Jorge Garbajusa. (Fred Thornhill photo/Topronto Sun)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

It is just a number for Jorge Garbajosa.

But even though the Spanish forward has not been in Toronto for long, Garbajosa knows why his No. 15 is very significant for Raptors fans.

The old No. 15 -- Vince Carter -- comes to the Air Canada Centre to face the first Raptor to wear No. 15 -- Garbajosa -- since the whiner left town, in a pre-season game today.

Garbajosa was well aware that Carter wore his No. 15 in Toronto and when he signed with the Raptors this summer, he asked if it would be an issue if he kept the number. The Raptors, of course, were only too happy to start a new era for the No. 15.

"I have been using 15 for a long time in my career," Garbajosa, who isn't superstitious about the number, said after practice yesterday at the ACC. "When I was sent here, I asked if I can use it. They told me it's not a big problem. That's it, I'm in.

"(Carter) is one of the biggest stars in this league. Obviously you cannot compare (us). I'm just trying to play good for the team. I (wear) the number for the team because it's a number I like."

Carter missed a game Friday against the New York Knicks with a rib injury, but practised yesterday and expects to play today. As usual, he undoubtedly will be booed every time he touches the ball.

While it's doubtful Garbajosa will match Carter's stardom -- or be as hated as the one-time Toronto star -- in his career, he has made a good first impression in the first two pre-season games. A key piece of the Raptors' second unit, Garbajosa nailed two three-pointers in overtime to lift Toronto to a 118-112 win over the Boston Celtics in the team's previous game on Wednesday. The Raptors are 2-0 in pre-season play.

One of the biggest hurdles Garbajosa will have to overcome is adjusting to the new NBA rules. On that front, he and his teammates went through their annual pre-season meeting with the referees after practice yesterday. While the lecture is a snoozer for most veterans, it was an eye-opener for Garbajosa, who will have to be careful not to move when setting screens, something he could occasionally get away with in Europe.

"There are a few points you've got to learn," he said. "The contacts, when you can use the hands when not. There are a lot of things. For us, it's more important than for the (experienced) players. You cover a lot of things."

Meanwhile, Raptors star Chris Bosh missed practise for the second day in a row yesterday with a sore left heel. However, he is expected to play today.

UPDATE

The New Jersey Nets suffered a tough blow earlier this weekend when they learned swingman Eddie House would need arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus (left knee). He will miss four to six weeks. Nets coach Lawrence Frank kept Jason Kidd out of the lineup Friday against the New York Knicks, but the star point guard is expected to play today. In Kidd's absence, first-round draft pick Marcus Williams stepped in and notched 21 points and seven assists. Frank is expected to give Richard Jefferson or Jason Collins a day off today as he continues offering his veterans a bit of rest.


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