Vancouver Sun

DeRozan’s patience is wearing thin

Injured Raptors guard close to returning


SAN FRANCISCO — We can now say, conclusive­ly, that DeMar DeRozan’s absence did not destroy the Toronto Raptors’ season. After the all-star went down with a torn adductor longus tendon in his groin on Nov. 28, the Raptors were 13-3. In 16 games since then, they have an 11-5 record. They remain a major threat in the Eastern Conference.

That has made things easier on DeRozan, surely. This is the first serious injury of his NBA career; the 16 games he has missed with this injury outpace the 11 games he missed in his first five years combined. Yet, as he gets closer to his return, DeRozan gets more anxious about it.

“It may seem like I’m patient, but I go crazy watching the games or being at home and not able to do my normal routine that I’d be doing if I was playing,” DeRozan said on Thursday, in advance of the Raptors’ game against the Warriors in Oakland on Friday. “So it’s tough. It’s not an easy thing at all.”

Thankfully, DeRozan is inching closer to his return to the floor. On Thursday, he went through his first full practice since the injury, and the Raptors have practices planned for Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday, too.

It would not be a surprise to see DeRozan back in the lineup to start the team’s sixgame home stand on Thursday against Charlotte, or if not, shortly thereafter.

As always when a player misses that much time, there will be concerns about conditioni­ng and rhythm. Not everyone can be Kevin Durant, who returned from a six-game absence to score 44 points on New Year’s Eve. It will be more interestin­g to see how DeRozan will fit in with a slightly altered team.

“He can’t come in expecting to be a 19-, 20-point scorer, first game, second game,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “It’s going to take a while to get his rhythm back. We’ve got to be patient with that. It won’t be as hard scheme-wise or offensivel­y, because the offence is kind of built around him anyway. Nothing has changed from that standpoint.”

Certainly, the Raptors could go back to their normal framework. However, both Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross have been fairly effective sliding into DeRozan’s role in the offence.

Ross, in particular, has showed off a dangerous floater coming off the curls that are usually designed for DeRozan. The progress has been moderate, but it has been illuminati­ng.

The Raptors’ defensive issues without DeRozan have been more pronounced than their offensive problems, which is a bit of a surprise.

 ?? DAVE SANDFORD/GETTY IMAGES FILES ?? A torn groin tendon has kept Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan out of the lineup for half the season.
DAVE SANDFORD/GETTY IMAGES FILES A torn groin tendon has kept Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan out of the lineup for half the season.

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