Less than 24 hours after having their lunch handed to them by a veteran-laden Boston Celtics club the Raptors were back on the practice court trying to avoid a repeat of some of the finer points that made them such fodder for the Boston club. And while certainly not all of the loss was on rookies Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross, there were enough teaching moments in the game to keep both with the coaching staff and in front of game film for an extended period of time Thursday morning before the actual practice.
“It’s unfortunate,” coach Dwane Casey acknowledged, reflecting on the various roadblocks that have derailed the former first-overall pick’s once promising career. “The young man can’t catch a break, no pun intended. “It’s one of those things where it’s one injury after another. And they’re injuries, it’s not like he’s got an owie or something, they’re legitimate injuries. So it’s tough because he’s missed so many games and he’s such a big part of what we wanted to do.”
While the team expects him to be sidelined for the rest of the season, Bargnani didn’t want to say that he wouldn’t be back, instead saying he knows only what we know and will continue to rehab and return whenever he can. “It’s frustrating just for the fact that I wasn’t able to play at my best,” he explained. “I wasn’t in a position to play good for all of my injuries. It’s really frustrating for that. This kind of stuff happens. I’m going to keep working to be back stronger next year.”
The Bobcats No. 2 draft pick has been paying huge dividends for the Cats lately. In his first season, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has stepped in and made a significant impact on a young team. MKG averages 9.0 points (tied for sixth among rookies), 5.6 rebounds (fifth), 1.6 assists (10th), 1.0 block (fourth) and 0.75 steal (ninth) in 25.8 minutes (eighth), making him one of the most productive rookies this season. While Kidd-Gilchrist continues to steadily improve at the professional level, he shoots 45.7 percent from the field, second on the team only to the newcomer Josh McRoberts (.489). MKG has spent a significant amount of the season matching up against the opponent’s best offensive threat, which will be the case when the Bobcats travel to Toronto to face Rudy Gay and the Raptors… Gay, who was traded from the Grizzlies on January 30, has averaged 19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.38 steals since the transition to Toronto. Recently, Gay has been struggling with back problems, forcing him to miss two games this month, but suited up for the Raptors most recent game against the Celtics. Unless his back condition gets worse, it is likely Gay will play against the Bobcats. As a high-energy player, Kidd-Gilchrist thrives when taking on a high-profile player, so look for MKG to put the clamps down on defense against Gay.
“We’ve had a tough season,” Henderson said. “The toughest thing has been coming here every day, practicing hard and going through shootaround and watching film and stuff and then not really translating itself into wins, not really showing itself. So it feels great anytime we can win.”