By Ben Golliver
Toronto lost its second important frontcourt player in two weeks to an indefinite injury absence on Friday.
The Associated Press reports that Raptors rookie big man Jonas Valanciunas suffered a broken finger on his right hand during the first quarter of a 93-90 win over the Magic at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night.
Toronto lost rookie center Jonas Valanciunas to a broken right ring finger at 7:31 of the first. Valanciunas grabbed his hand after battling for a loose ball under the Magic basket. He was slow to get back on defense, and left the court wincing in pain when he was replaced by Amir Johnson. Valanciunas was taken for X-rays, which revealed the fracture.
A Raptors media relations representative said Friday that Valanciunas would see a specialist before a recovery timetable would be set.
Valanciunas, 20, is in his first season with the Raptors after Toronto made him the No. 5 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He joins teammate Andrea Bargnani, who tore an elbow ligament in a fall during a game against the Blazers last week, on the injured list.
Coach Dwane Casey has started Valanciunas in all 28 games this season. Forward Amir Johnson started in Valanciunas' place during the second half on Friday night. Starting Johnson alongside forward Ed Davis would leave Aaron Gray as the only available big man off the bench. Gray, a journeyman, received a DNP-CD on Friday.
The Raptors, who won their fifth straight game and improved to 9-19 on the season, can't exactly afford to spare Valanciunas. Toronto ranks No. 25 in the NBA in defensive efficiency and No. 26 in rebound rate.
Valanciunas was averaging 8.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 assists in 23.0 minutes per game this season entering Friday's action and was shooting 52.4 percent from the field.
Video via YouTube user Patti Poole