Raptors' Davis braces for return

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:10 PM ET

TORONTO - Baby steps.

At times its frustrating but when youve been watching your teammates playing for almost seven weeks while you itch to get back in game action, baby steps are all Ed Davis has.

Wednesday night in Philadelphia he took another step exchanging the bulky brace for a lighter one that puts him another step closer to making his NBA debut.

Davis gave the new brace the thumbs up. Monday in Miami he went through his first full contact practice. It all points to a return to the court as early as next week.

LOVE THEM LITHUANIANS

Easily the most vocal part of the 12,164 announced crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia were the 75 or so green and gold-clad Lithuanians cheering on Linas Kleiza from about 25 rows up behind the Raptors bench.

Kleiza said it was impossible not to hear them.

We have the best fans in the world, Kleiza said of the flag-waving, Kleiza-chanting Lithuanians.

And Kleiza wasnt even aware there was such a big Lithuanian community in Philly.

I know we have a lot bigger community in Chicago, but that was great, Kleiza said.

On the ballot

The NBA all-star ballot made its debut yesterday and three Raptors made the cut.

Centre Andrea Bargnani appears on the ballot for a second time while guard DeMar DeRozan and forward Kleiza make their debuts on the ballot.

Voting can be done on-line at NBA.com, at NBA arenas and even SMS voting.

The starters for the Feb. 20, 2011, NBA all-star game in Los Angeles will be announced on Jan. 27 during a one-hour TNT special.

BARBOSA RETURNS

Leandro Barbosa rested his strained left shoulder while the Raptors played four on the road this past week. Head coach Jay Triano said he expects him back in the lineup for Fridays game against the Houston Rockets at the Air Canada Centre.


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