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News » Turkoglu takes his time

Turkoglu takes his time

Turkoglu takes his timeBasketball REPORTER

The locker room of an NBA team is no place to hide.

Hedo Turkoglu has been a mystery man for the Toronto Raptors so far this preseason, and his teammates were giving him the spa treatment as they got ready to play the Philadelphia 76ers in exhibition action last night.

"Turkoglu, you get your massage yet?" Marcus Banks said, as Turkoglu was relaxing in his stall. "What now, steam room?"


"Pedicure," Rasho Nesterovic predicted.

To which Turkoglu shrugged and said he had his pedicure in the morning already.

It was good-natured ribbing, and perhaps a sign the Raptors' prize free-agent acquisition may actually play Basketball in a meaningful way one of these days - just to shut his teammates up.

Hey, Jose Calderon, how has Turkoglu looked in practice so far?

"Practice, what practice?" Calderon said.

Turkoglu is nearly two weeks into his tenure as the highest-profile free-agent signing in Raptors history, but has yet to do more than walk through sets at half-speed as the club has allowed him time off to recover after playing into June with the Orlando Magic and then competing with the Turkish national team through September.

"All the time, all the time," Turkoglu said when asked if teammates were on him for being on light duty, even as they were going twice a day during training camp. "They've been killing me about [not] practising. 'Go easy, don't hurt yourself.' I say, 'Okay, I won't.' "

Two games into their exhibition season the Raptors have hardly looked like a well-greased machine in the absence of Turkoglu and Chris Bosh, who has been nursing a tender hamstring the club doesn't want to be a long-term problem.

Last night, they lost their second game in a row to the Philadelphia 76ers, 84-79 - a sluggish contest in which the Raptors shot 39.5 per cent and held the 76ers to 37 per cent from the floor.

With Turkoglu sidelined, Sonny Weems - a throw-in in the Raptors' acquisition of Amir Johnson from the Milwaukee Bucks - impressed as he sprinted the floor and provided a dose of hustle and athleticism from the small forward spot. He finished with 12 points, tied with teammate Marco Belinelli for game-high.

The centre of Toronto's off-season makeover, Turkoglu was included in the video montage of training camp the Raptors played for their fans before the game at the Air Canada Centre; he was shown riding a stationary bike.

The sense is Bosh is itching to play. Raptors head coach Jay Triano speculated Bosh might practice today, and could play in Minnesota tomorrow.

Turkoglu? He's staying home.

"When he says he's ready to play, I might make him sit out another week," Triano said the other day, only half joking.

The regular-season opener is three weeks away, and Turkoglu is still being counted on to be ready when games begin to count. But when he plays prior to that is another story.

"I'm trying to be fresh and 100 per cent, because I know what I can do when I'm fresher and feeling better," Turkoglu said before heading out to do some shooting before the game. "So far, they've been treating me well. Hopefully, in a week or so, I don't know. I hate to give a time but I'll try to come back and try to be part of the team.

"It's hard but, on the other hand, I have to do what is for me best and it's going to affect the team in the best way, too, and they realize that, too. It's better to miss time now than in the regular season."

To their credit, the Raptors have dropped any pretense Turkoglu has an injury to nurse. There's been no mention of his quadriceps tendonitis for a week now. Last night, he was listed on the box score as DNP (for Did Not Play) - rest.

Exactly how much rest he needs or why is hard to tell, as Turkoglu, 30, is a bit vague on the subject.

"Mentally and physically, I was hurt and tired," he said. "I was feeling fatigued and they just gave me time to rest."

The Raptors are prepared to tolerate Turkoglu's early October respite because they accept the notion that, as a nine-year veteran, he has a grasp on what it takes to be ready for the season.

"Hopefully soon man," he said when asked about a timeline for starting work in earnest. "In a week or so. I'm feeling better every day."



Notes The Toronto Raptors went with the same starting lineup for the second game of their back-to-back series with the Philadelphia 76ers: Jose Calderon at point guard, Marco Belinelli at shooting guard, DeMar DeRozan at small forward, Reggie Evans at power forward and Andrea Bargnani at centre. ... The Raptors dressing room has been made over in head coach Jay Triano's image. On the wall opposite his office is the phrase: Together we shall prevail. On another, it's the word discipline and a working definition: Do the right thing; Do it the right way; Do it that way all the time. Another wall boasts a tribute to the merits of teamwork. ... Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu shot around on the floor before the game last night, but did not dress. Bosh, however, remained in uniform for the game as he forgot to bring a suit to wear on the bench.

Next game At Minnesota Timberwolves, tomorrow, 8 p.m. EDT

TV None

Michael Grange

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 8, 2009


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