Injuries mean Raps can't practise properly

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:18 PM ET

TORONTO - It might not be February any more, but Thursday morning must have felt quite a bit like Groundhog Day for Raptors head coach Jay Triano.

Yet again, the fates conspired against Triano and he was unable to run a full practice because so many of his players had to sit out.

“We didn’t have enough guys to do a whole lot,” said Triano, sounding a familiar refrain.

Part — but not all — of the team’s struggles this year can be blamed on a constant string of injuries, along with scheduling quirks which made full assemblage for practices difficult.

The rundown on this day:

Starting power forward Amir Johnson’s ankle, which was injured during Wednesday’s tough loss to Utah, “is not looking good right now,” according to the coach. Johnson is doubtful for Friday’s home tilt with the struggling Indiana Pacers. Floor general Jose Calderon was kicked in the calf against the Jazz and also could not practise, but is probable for Friday; sixth man Leandro Barbosa is also probable, but couldn’t go due to a sore back; Reggie Evans was very sore and sat out after gutting out 33 minutes against Utah in his first action since November but will play; backup big man Alexis Ajinca was held out and is questionable for Friday, while Andrea Bargnani was able to return from his second bout with the flu.

Bargnani said he is feeling much better — comforting news for the assembled media, who gathered a lot farther back than usual, fearful of his resilient virus.

Minus Johnson, Ed Davis will see his minutes increase, even though Evans will be available.

Bargnani said he was happy Evans is ready to play, since he had formed a nice groove with Evans early on and the team was hovering close to .500 before the big man went down.

But with the rest of the year now all about the future, starting Davis over Evans makes far more sense for the Raptors.

Bargnani said that there is still work to be done down the stretch despite the club’s poor record.

“This season didn’t go the way anybody expected it to go, (now it’s) just about the group improving, adding to their game,” said Toronto’s leading scorer.

“We’ve got to keep playing,” he added, saying individually, he must ratchet up his aggressiveness the way he did at other successful points of the season.

Without Bargnani and Johnson for all but a few first-quarter minutes, Davis’ offensive opportunities increased. He attempted a career-high 13 shots, making six, but knows with Bargnani back that is not his job.

Davis said he didn’t have his legs late in the Utah loss as much as he did in the first half, but denied he is hitting a rookie wall.

Recently, sophomore DeMar DeRozan said he was exhausted at this time last season.

“I don’t think I hit a wall, I missed training camp (due to a knee injury),” Davis said.

“I guess that was my wall right there.”

Indiana has hit a wall of its own of late, dropping 7-of-9 contests.


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