Raps tough it out without Bargnani

The MRI has been done, the doctors in Toronto and Italy have conferred and Andrea Bargnani is...

The MRI has been done, the doctors in Toronto and Italy have conferred and Andrea Bargnani is sidelined indefinitely. (REUTERS/Jim Urquhart)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 PM ET

DENVER - The MRI has been done, the doctors in Toronto and Italy have conferred and Andrea Bargnani is sidelined indefinitely.

That, in a nutshell is the news on the Raptors’ leading scorer.

As expected the injury is the same one that knocked Bargnani out of the lineup for six games through the middle of January — a strained left calf.

There is “no significant damage” to the calf and Bargnani will be treated “symptomatically.”

No one feels confident putting a timeline on how long he could be out or how soon he could be back.

After re-injuring the calf during the first overtime in Wednesday’s win in Utah, Bargnani said it felt worse than the first time.

Going on that, we can assume it’s going to be longer than two weeks.

Bargnani was with his team at shootaround Friday morning at the Pepsi Centre. He still requires crutches to get around.

His place in the starting lineup will be filled by a combination of Ed Davis and Linas Kleiza.

The hope is that having Kleiza back up to speed and a healthy Jerryd Bayless to come off the bench for Jose Calderon — two things the Raps didn’t have in Bargnani’s first absence — should make this one a little less crippling.

“Linas is a little more acclimated getting his sea legs under him a little more,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said Friday morning. “He had his rhythm the other night against Utah. We want to see that continue. He has to give us some offensive punch and Jerryd has to do what he can but again, that doesn’t mean we want them to force their game, we want to let the game come to them.”

In Bargnani’s first absence the team averaged just 81 points a night in going 0-6 until he returned.

“It’s a huge loss for us losing Andrea,” Casey said. “He is playing at a big-time level at both ends of the floor. We have to have someone come in and simulate that and we don’t want to force that on any one guy. It may be a committee of people coming in and picking up that scoring punch.”

Which one of Davis or Kleiza gets the call will be dictated by the opposition.

“Matchups will determine (who starts and plays the bulk of the minutes) a lot more this time around. If it’s a strong post-up guy, we’ll probably go with Eddie,” Casey said.

Casey feels the team is a little more prepared to play without Bargnani this time around having learned a few things about themselves in the first six-game absence.

“You have to manufacture offence,” Casey said. “I think that’s what we struggled with more than anything else. Defensively we did just as good a job so it’s just a matter of manufacturing points and knowing where our offence is coming from.”

Specifically, Casey wants his players to be much more aware of their spacing on the floor. Someone has to stretch the defence and that was a focus at shootaround.’

“We have to do a better job of spacing,” Casey said. “Spacing is an issue when (Bargnani’s) not in and we worked on some things where that is concerned.”

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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