January 11, 2012
Kleiza's back for Raptors
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Raptors desperately need an offensive boost.
It might take a while for it to happen consistently, but Linas Kleiza could provide it.
Kleiza finally returned to the active roster on Wednesday night, scoring 10 points and three rebounds in 15 minutes at the ACC, after being sidelined since last January 21st.
Kleiza underwent surgery on Feb. 2, 2011, to fix a meniscal tear and chondral defect of his right knee. He had seen heavy minutes while starring for Lithuania at the 2010 FIBA World Championship — he made the tourney all-star team and led Lithuania to the bronze medal with 19 point, 7.1 rebound averages — and was bothered by various ailments during his first season with the Raptors.
Recovery from the microfracture surgery takes between 9-12 months, so Kleiza is slightly ahead of schedule, but Raptors head coach Dwane Casey cautioned that he does not plan to rush him and will spot his minutes until he finds his form.
However, Kleiza checked in late in the first quarter against Sacramento on Wednesday night and scored five quick points.
Kleiza’s teammates are excited to have him back.
Anthony Carter, a long-time teammate in Denver said Kleiza provides “instant offence.”
Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon singled out his offensive versatility.
“He’s a great shooter, he can play in the low block, does a little bit of it all, he’s a great offensive player so that can only help,” Bargnani said.
“He knows how to play, he was the main guy with his national team and he played great in Denver,” added Calderon.
Toronto is 26th in the league, averaging 87.5 points per game and Kleiza is a proven scorer who Casey will utilize both at small and power forward.
Kleiza has two years remaining on a $18.8 million-dollar four-year contract following this season.
He was averaging a career-best 11.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 26.3 minutes when his season came to an end.