Knee keeps O'Neal out

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Raptors centre Jermaine O'Neal was a scratch again last night because of a bruised right knee.

"I'm day-to-day," O'Neal said with a shrug before last night when asked if he will play tomorrow here against the Orlando Magic.

For coach Jay Triano, no O'Neal meant a huge hole in the shot-blocking department with Yao Ming in town.

"Jermaine's been a big clog for us in the inside, but Andrea (Bargnani) guards the post pretty well," Triano said. "He'll have a tough job ahead of him tonight. If they elect to put Yao Ming on (small forward) Jamario Moon the way they did last year, we'll deal with that, but if they put him on Andrea, we'll try to keep him away from the basket."

LANGUAGE ARTS

Yao knows enough English by now to guest on The Simpsons and to trade quips with reporters last night when he said his command of the language was down to paying good money for lessons. But he knows enough not to fire the opposition up.

When asked about the Raptors' recent struggles, he was complimentary of Chris Bosh and O'Neal.

"This is a tough league and you never know," Yao said before the game. "One night can change everything. We respect they are a very good team with a lot of talent."

Yao's arrival attracted plenty of attention last night, with at least 20 members of the local Asian media covering the game. When he first arrived in 2002-03, the Raptors needed 52 extra credentials.

HELPING AT HOME

Yao's newly created charitable foundation was put to the test this summer when a massive earthquake struck Sichuan and Gansu provinces in China. Yao wants to build more sturdily constructed schools in the area.


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