Raptors are one hurting unit

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:23 PM ET

DALLAS — It was exactly the type of report Raptors head coach Jay Triano didn’t need.

Standing at the door to the team locker room and already knowing 2/5 of his starting five would not be playing, Triano waited as Amir Johnson walked by and was asked by his coach how his sore back was feeling.

“Little bit of pain coach, I’m going to put a little more tape on it,” Johnson said.

Turns out that was the best injury news Triano heard all night.

Still, Triano could only shake his head. He had been hoping for a more positive report but those have been few and far between in this tough month of December for the Raptors.

Already without Andrea Bargnani and Sonny Weems, Triano was looking at the distinct possibility of a total of eight healthy bodies for Tuesday night’s tilt against the 24-5 Dallas Mavericks in a city the Raptors have not won in since Dec. 30, 1999.

And no, that is not a misprint.

The only definitely healthy Raptors heading into Tuesday’s game were Linas Kleiza, Joey Dorsey, DeMar DeRozan, Jerryd Bayless, Ronald Dupree, Julian Wright, Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi.

Not even the news that Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks leading scorer, would be sitting out with a knee injury could lighten the mood in the MASH unit of a visiting clubhouse.

Point guard Jose Calderon limped off the court Monday night in Memphis. His sore left foot, which cost him four games earlier this month, again prevented him from playing.

Leandro Barbosa hurt his knee in Memphis and was “going to try to go” in Dallas. How effective he could be was anyone’s guess

The tape apparently did Johnson a world of good because he was in uniform and starting as the teams came out for their final warmups.

Without Calderon, Bayless got the start at point guard with Wright his backup.

“We’ll manage with the guys we have, and we’ll have to scramble if that is the case,” Triano said.

Nowitzki fell awkwardly on a on a step-back jumper in Oklahoma City on Monday night. X-rays were negative but following an MRI on Tuesday in Dallas, the Mavs announced Nowitzki was dealing with a sprained knee and was shut down for at least the Toronto game. Former Raptor Shawn Marion got the starting assignment in Nowitzki’s place.

Unlike the Raptors however, the Mavs are relatively healthy and also unlike the Raptors have a deep bench.

“Balance is one of our calling cards and we are going to need it (Tuesday),” Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said.

Triano wishes his problems were so trivial.


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