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Lewenberg: Raps dodge a bullet, Lowry to play through injury

Josh Lewenberg
10/24/2013 7:41:41 PM
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TORONTO - The Raptors organization and its fans can breathe a sigh of relief after receiving positive news regarding the status of injured point guard Kyle Lowry.

Lowry will wear a splint on his non-shooting hand to protect an injured left ring finger tendon for approximately six weeks, however, he is still expected to participate in practices and play in games once the regular season begins next week, the team announced Thursday evening.

The starting point guard sustained the injury during Wednesday's victory over Memphis when his finger popped out while reaching for a loose ball late in the third quarter.

Attending a follow-up examination, Lowry was absent from practice Thursday morning and did not accompany the team to Milwaukee. He will miss Toronto's final exhibition game against the Bucks on Friday but should be ready to go when the Raptors host Boston in the season opener on Oct. 30.

The Raptors catch a lucky break as long as Lowry is active and in the lineup, even if he's playing at less than 100 per cent. Given the uncertainty off the bench at that position - neither D.J. Augustin nor rookie Dwight Buycks has stood out in the preseason - Lowry is expected to get the bulk of the playing time at the point this season.

Coach Dwane Casey has hinted at a possible platoon with the back-up point guard role, depending on match-ups and who has the hot hand, alternating between Augustin and Buycks heading into the season. With Lowry sidelined for Friday's preseason finale, Casey should get a good look at his reserves.

Julyan Stone, who is still battling for the final roster spot but has been used to spell Lowry at the point during camp, is also nursing an injury after taking a knee to his surgically repaired right hip on Wednesday. He was a non-participant in Thursday's practice and is consider day-to-day.

Centre Jonas Valanciunas was limited in practice, able to participate in non-contact drills after taking an elbow to the face a couple minutes after Lowry's injury. Valanciunas needed three stitches to patch up a laceration to his chin and was still sore on Thursday but insisted he was feeling better and will also be good to go next week when the games count.

"I feel not bad," he said. "[I] still need a couple days but I'm feeling good so I'm going to be ready for the first [regular] season game."

Tyler Hansbrough, who tweaked his right thumb Wednesday, was a full-participant in practice.

Raptors exercise team options on Valanciunas and Ross

The Raptors also announced they have picked up third-year options on the rookie contracts of sophomores Valanciunas and Terrence Ross.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. The team had until Oct. 31 to exercise its option on both players.

Valanciunas, 21, was named to the 2012-13 NBA All-Rookie Second Team after averaging 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds in his first season with the Raptors.

Ross, 22, averaged 6.4 points and 2.0 rebounds as a rookie last season, winning the 2013 Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend.

Both of their contracts are now guaranteed through the 2014-15 season.

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