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Observation Deck

Raptors suffer a devastating blow and more notes

Posted: Tuesday March 27, 2007 3:12PM; Updated: Wednesday March 28, 2007 9:58AM
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Jorge Garbajosa, who has started 60 games for the Raptors this season, reacts after injuring his left leg at Boston on Monday.
Jorge Garbajosa, who has started 60 games for the Raptors this season, reacts after injuring his left leg at Boston on Monday.
AP
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Jorge Garbajosa was the subject of a lengthy Boston Globe feature Sunday, one that placed the 29-year-old Spanish rookie among the several international faces that dot Toronto's roster. But, sadly, Garbajosa spent Monday night in a Boston-area hospital, his season suddenly over.

While trying to contest an Al Jefferson dunk attempt late in the fourth quarter of Toronto's loss to the Celtics on Monday, Garbajosa came down awkwardly on his left leg, which collapsed under the stress. He is expected to miss six months after having surgery on his leg and ankle Tuesday.

The injury is unfortunate, as Garbajosa quickly established himself as one of the NBA's better glue guys (extra passes, good help defense, range on the jumper) in his first season. Like most European imports, his three-point shooting improved considerably as the season progressed and he grew accustomed to the NBA's longer three-point line. With fellow rookie Andrea Bargnani potentially out for the rest of the regular season after having his appendix removed, Toronto was counting on Garbajosa's outside touch to keep defenses honest while they tried to check Chris Bosh down low and keep point guards T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon (devastating slashers, suspect outside shooters) out of the lane.

And yet, the rookies' injuries won't affect Toronto's playoff standing one lick. The Raptors are six games up in the Atlantic Division with 12 to play, so the team is all but assured that fourth seed in the East. And even before Bargnani and Garbajosa went down, it didn't appear likely that the Raptors would have a chance of catching Chicago (their projected first-round opponent) and winning home court advantage to start the postseason.

What this injury does quash, no matter the opponent, is the idea that the Raptors could offer up a mild upset and make it to the second round. Even with Bargnani's (probably rusty) return and the continued solid touch of Juan Dixon from the outside, the organization will probably have to be sated with the remarkable achievement of going from a lottery winner to a division winner in one season.

• With his roster decimated by injury and littered with dubious acquisitions whose worth he seems intent on proving, Knicks coach Isiah Thomas threw out a curious lineup for the bulk of the first quarter against Orlando on Monday. Jerome James was in the pivot, Eddy Curry was in the high post (nominally a power forward, I guess), Channing Frye was wandering around trying to act like a small forward, and Jared Jeffries and Stephon Marbury worked the backcourt. This gargantuan lineup actually held its own against the Magic, though this bit of limited success had more to do with another weak defensive performance from Darko Milicic, not any real advantage Isiah's furious five created on its own.

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