While undergoing medical testing for his calf injury, Jorge Garbajosa received some good news to cheer him up yesterday.
The Raptors forward was named NBA Eastern Conference rookie of the month for December, edging out teammate Andrea Bargnani.
Garbajosa, doubtful for a game tonight against the Phoenix Suns with a right calf strain after suffering the injury Saturday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies, averaged 10.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in a December when the Raptors went 5-5.
Garbajosa is the fifth Raptor to win the award, joining Charlie Villanueva (December 2006), Vince Carter (March and April 1999), Marcus Camby (March 1997) and Damon Stoudamire (November 1995 and January 1996).
Garbajosa isn't the only Raptor dealing with health issues. Point guard T.J. Ford (sprained right ankle) was a limited participant in practice yesterday and said he will be a game-time decision for tonight.
"It seems like every time we get one person back, someone else goes down," Ford said, referring to the probable return tonight of all-star forward Chris Bosh.
CHANGE OF PACE
All that Phoenix north hype about the Raptors has really died down.
The Raptors now play at a much more controlled pace and don't focus on running to attempt quick shots on every possession.
Not surprisingly, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell doesn't plan to try to play Suns basketball tonight.
"I don't know what the test is going to be, I don't think we're going to try to run with Phoenix," Mitchell said. "We're going to try to play the way we've been playing. Obviously if we can get a layup, we're going to take the layup. But I don't think we're going to try to run with them."
LOVING THE UNDERDOG
Mitchell spent his college career playing for little Mercer, so it wasn't surprising that he was basking in the glory of Boise State's incredible Fiesta Bowl overtime victory against Oklahoma.
"I enjoyed it," Mitchell, a big college football fan, said.
"I like the small schools."