Jonas Valanciunas fights through high altitude

Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas blocks a shot against Denver's Kenneth Faried on Monday. (REUTERS)

Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas blocks a shot against Denver's Kenneth Faried on Monday. (REUTERS)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:26 PM ET

Chalk another first up for Jonas Valanciunas.

But this time it wasn’t some bruising or crafty big man that he can strike from his bucket list.

This time it was the thin air in Denver, a mile above sea level and something he has never in his 20 years experienced before.

And yes, the altitude took a bite out of him in Denver, but it didn’t beat him.

Valanciunas experienced the effect playing in such conditions for the first time on Sunday when the Raptors made the wise decision to take advantage of a break in the schedule and arrive early in Denver.

He felt it in practice, tiring early, but it was an all-together different tired a night later under the lights. As anyone who has played the game at the professional level, practice is a mere shadow the real thing.

Valanciunas started the game and looked very much himself but 5:40 into the game and with only one foul on his rap sheet, Dwane Casey decided he needed a rest and he wasn’t wrong.

“It’s


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