Bargnani on the mend

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani was recovering at his Toronto apartment yesterday, two days after having his appendix removed at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Bargnani, a leading candidate for rookie of the year, is expected to miss at least two weeks. The native of Rome was buoyed by the arrival yesterday of his father, Roberto.

The Raptors are keeping close tabs on their No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft.

"We're not going to leave him locked up in the house, with no food and water, by himself," coach Sam Mitchell said. "We sent a lot of food over (yesterday) and some of his teammates went by to see him. I went and saw him (Thursday). We're not going to forget about him."

Bargnani, 21, has established himself as one of the top sixth men in the NBA this season, averaging 11.5 points and 3.9 rebounds, and was named the Eastern Conference rookie of the month for January and February. In Bargnani's absence, Mitchell is hoping he continues to get some solid efforts off the bench from the likes of Joey Graham, Morris Peterson and Kris Humphries.

"We miss him but we have to keep going forward," Mitchell said.

"Andrea needs to get his rest and recuperate. We have to do what we've done all year, give people a chance to play and hopefully they'll play well enough to help us in."

Mitchell was asked if he had a return date for Bargnani.

"I've been waiting for somebody to ask me that. My medical degree is back in the locker room," the coach said, his voice laced with sarcasm. "I went to night school for it. You can get it in 45 days."

"Where, down in Georgia?" one sarcastic wag asked, alluding to Mitchell's home state.

"No, Mississippi," Mitchell said.

BROWN GETTING IT DONE

Toronto native Denham Brown, a second-round pick by Seattle SuperSonics last year, is eighth in the NBA Development League in points per game, averaging 18.5 for the Tulsa 66ers. Brown is expected to play for Canada at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Las Vegas this summer.


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