Opportunity knocks for young Raptors

With three veterans injured, Raptors rookie Terrence Ross should see an increase role. (JACK...

With three veterans injured, Raptors rookie Terrence Ross should see an increase role. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency file photo)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:36 PM ET

TORONTO - First came the schedule from hell.

Then came a string of games so curiously officiated that the Raptors had no choice but to ask the league (more than once) what was going on.

Now, with that brutal schedule about to really kick into gear (11 of the next 14 games will be on the road), the injury bug has hit, leaving the club down its top player, another starter and a key reserve.

The good news: The updates Toronto got on Thursday morning could have been a lot worse.

Star point guard Kyle Lowry has a bruised cuboid bone in his right foot and will be treated symptomatically, with a return pegged in the next one to two weeks.

That’s a lot better than the alternative — a long-term injury which looked probable when Lowry was carried off the court screaming in pain on Nov. 6 in Oklahoma City.

Lowry will miss games against Boston, Orlando, Philadelphia and Charlotte, with his earliest return date coming next Friday at Detroit.

Swingman Alan Anderson also appeared to suffer a serious injury when he pulled up lame after an awkward-looking drive on Nov. 10 against Philadelphia, but will return in three to six weeks after being diagnosed with a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

Starting small forward Landry Fields likely will be out the longest, but even his diagnosis brought some relief. Fields had ulnar nerve transposition surgery Wednesday in New York City, to address compression/entrapment in his right elbow.

“Tests found that there was a block in my elbow region,” Fields explained.

“What they did surgically is they moved the ulner nerve above the bone right there so that frees it up and that’s kind of what’s been causing the problem.”

Fields will be reassessed in two weeks, and could be out for a while.

Still, the team was relieved that there was a medical explanation for the pricey free agent signing’s troubling play early on. Fields was averaging just 2.4 points and 3.2 rebounds and shooting 20.8% from the field, including 0-for-6 from three in his five starts.

Fields said he knew he was far better than he had looked, so also took comfort in finding out that he was injured.

“I always distinguished something wrong with pain and there was no pain, it would just involuntarily do (spasms) … Finally after the Dallas game I went to the trainers and said: ‘Hey, something’s really wrong with my hand and we’ve got to get it figured out,’” Fields said.

“I figured I’ll work around this, I’ll get extra shots up, when that didn’t work, I started thinking, OK, something’s wrong here, I know I’m not that bad right now. Then you start internalizing it and it starts to affect your mental game and so finally I was like I can’t do this anymore, I’ve got to get some help with this.”

So he did and as a result, Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo will feel better about signing Fields for three years and $19 million U.S., but head coach Dwane Casey will have to adapt to life without his starting small forward.

“Our rotation is not going to look like the normal rotation, but the NBA season goes on,” Casey said, doing his best not to sigh.

“This is an opportunity for those that weren’t getting big minutes to come out and play and produce. We’ve got to take advantage of that and put people in positions where they can be successful.”

Terrence Ross ... you’re up.

“He’s growing. He’s earning that trust, he’s earning that time on the court,” Casey said of Ross, who had his best outing yet in Tuesday’s win at Indiana.

“He had an excellent practice today. You can’t rush father time … Each game he’s done something very positive.”

Linas Kleiza, who skipped practice on Thursday after taking a knock on his ankle and Dominic McGuire, who went home for a family matter but should be back for Saturday’s game in Boston, also will see increased action.

Casey said he might even try Andrea Bargnani at small forward a bit, against certain matchups, to compensate for the absent swingmen and also maybe to try to get the slumping forward going again.

“There’s a lot of possibilities at the three position,” he said.

Just not options one or two, at the moment.


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