Turkoglu awaiting the dawn of 2010

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 PM ET

Most of the Raptors are looking forward to the Christmas break, which starts after Wednesday’s game in Detroit and ends with a practice on Boxing Day eve.

But for the club’s starting small forward, Hedo Turkoglu, the break won’t end soon enough.

Turkoglu acknowledged Tuesday following a team practice at the Air Canada Centre, that he, more than anyone else, is frustrated with how he has played so far this year.

Last season, Turkoglu averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Orlando Magic.

His numbers are down in Toronto.

But the Turk, whom the Raptors obtained in a sign-and-trade in July, believes that his game is finally starting to take wing. Indeed, in his past 10, Turkoglu has averaged 14.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

Part of the reason for that is, with starting point guard Jose Calderon on the shelf with a sore left hip, he is handling the ball more.

“Hopefully it will be a rising 2010 for me,” said Turkoglu, who has been targeted as one of the reasons why the Raptors have gotten off to a 13-17 start, though they have won two in a row. “I’m feeling much better physically, and I’ve learned about the system and the players now.”

Turkoglu began the season fatigued and sore after playing for his native Turkey in the summer and helping to guide Orlando to the NBA Finals. It has taken him time to get completely healthy.

He’s also had to learn a new system with new teammates and there have been games when his numbers, and his effort, lacked. But head coach Jay Triano has also taken some responsibility for Turkoglu’s numbers, saying that he is still learning how to best utilize his new forward.

“I know what I can do,” said an introspective Turkoglu. “I like to do different things, like rebound the ball, push it up, make an extra pass, create shots for other people — those are things that make me more happy than being selfish and taking 30 shots and scoring 30 points. That’s not going to get me anywhere.

Team goals

“I want to be a team guy and do the stuff to help the team get the W. Hopefully I’m starting to do that here.”

The Raptors head into The Palace of Auburn Hills for Wednesday’s game against the injury-laden Pistons having played a league-leading 30 games.

After the break, the schedule eases up considerably, and though Triano claims not to look far into the future, he’s aware that the tide is turning in their favour over the next couple of months.

“Our first 30 games happened in 53 days.,” Triano said. “Our next 30 happen in 73 days. So, that’s 20 more days we can do two things, rest and practice.

“And I’m hoping it means we’re fresher for most games.”

The Raptors next game after Wednesday is Sunday against the Pistons at the ACC.

“I think we really have to take advantage of this time in the schedule,” Chris Bosh said. “We need to get some momentum right now. Everybody’s going to go through a tough part of the schedule. We went through a tough part, so right now we have to take advantage of what we have.”


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