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Lewenberg: Raptors' Lowry prepared to play through pain

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Josh Lewenberg, TSN.ca
10/27/2013 11:00:43 PM
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TORONTO - With a protective splint wrapped all the way around his injured left ring finger, Kyle Lowry practiced Sunday for the first time since sustaining the injury last week.

"It's very sore, it's very tender," Lowry said of the torn tendon in his finger, which will require him to wear the splint on his non-shooting hand for six weeks, still participating in practices and playing in games.

"It is what it is. I've got to just adjust to it."

The Raptors' guard left Wednesday's preseason game late in the fourth quarter after he felt his finger pop out while reaching for the ball.

"Just not being able to completely use my finger," he said of the adjustment he'll need to make as he prepares to open the regular season with the team on Oct. 30. "It's pretty much taped all the way to the top so I'm limited to probably four fingers on that hand but I should be okay. I'll figure out how to shoot, score, pass and play defence with it."

"It'll be a difficult adjustment but I'm not going to complain about it, I'm just going to fight through it and help the team as best as I can."

Lowry, who is entering his second season in Toronto and the final year of his contract, acknowledged he'll have to be more cautious reaching in with the injury but insists his style of play will remain the same.

"I doubt it's going to change my game because I don't know how to play any different," the starting point guard maintained. "So I'm not really going to be concerned about it, I'm just going to try to not worry about it and play through it."

His coach echoed that sentiment.

"I don't think he'll be limited at all," Dwane Casey said. "Today he had no problems. He had the special [splint] on there and he was handling the ball, shooting the ball, playing with no problems whatsoever, so I don't think it'll affect him."

Chip on their Shoulders

With the season approaching, Casey referenced an NBA preview article from The New York Times, one he and the team has taken issue with.

"When the team's mascot tore an ACL in training camp, it was seen as a bad omen, which says a lot", the author wrote in the piece published on Saturday.

"That's total disrespect and hopefully our guys will use that as motivation," Casey protested. "Masai [Ujiri] saw that this morning and brought it in. It should give us motivation from that standpoint, but we've got to play the game."

Although Casey wrestled with the exact wording of the slight at his team, it's not the first time he's heard the American media underestimate or crack a joke at the expense of the Raptors' franchise.

A year ago, the Raptors' coach and a number of his players took issue with the 33-win prediction made by former ESPN analyst John Hollinger. They went on to win 34 games.

"I like that people are not respecting us," Casey said. "We've got to have a chip on our shoulders, I have a chip on my shoulder, and if you don't you shouldn't be in uniform."

Stone Makes Team, Still Not Satisfied

Over the past couple weeks it became clear that guard Julyan Stone was the standout in a three-player battle for the 15th and final spot on the team's regular season roster. On Saturday it was made official.

"My family told me, I didn't know," Stone said Sunday after finding out the news the day prior. "I was just going on day-by-day."

"My mom hit me with the smiley face," he continued, "but for her when she texts 'smile', she like writes the whole word 'smile' out instead of [using a] smiley face, so I kind of got it from [that]."

Stone has endeared himself to Raptors fans and the local media with his personality and quirky stories but his versatility and commitment to defence have kept him around.

"He does a good of job of running the show, good things happen when he's out on the floor," Casey said of the versatile 6-foot-6 guard. "He's a tough kid and he gives us a different defender at that point guard position that can guard the quick guys and guard the big guards so he gives you another tool in your tool box to work with. He's a hungry kid."

The Raptors waived forward Chris Wright and guard Carlos Morais, allowing Stone to stay on. With Lowry playing through injury and back-up point guards D.J. Augustin and Dwight Buycks failing to stand out in camp, Stone has an opportunity to play his way into a the rotation, something he's strived for from the minute he arrived in Toronto.

"Everybody's happy with just being in the league [but] my journey's been different," Stone said. "If you're a competitive person you're not just fighting for the 15th spot. I didn't come in here just to fight for the 15th spot. That was never really on my mind."

"It was a fight for a position to play," he continued. "So making the cut for me was just something I had to do but I didn't think about it that way. I came in here to play, I came in here to make a name [for myself], I came in here to be in the rotation, that's always been my mindset and that will continue to be my mindset."

Believed to be something of a long shot upon receiving a non-guaranteed contract and invite to training camp, Stone has impressed the coaching staff and continues to overcome a variety of injuries that have plagued him over the past couple years.

Stone averaged 1.7 points and 1.5 rebounds in 26 games regular season games with the Denver Nuggets over the last two years, also appearing in four playoff contests. The 24-year-old guard was expected to sign a guaranteed deal with the Raptors earlier in the summer before lingering knee and hip injuries put the agreement on ice. Ujiri, who previously acquired Stone in Denver, had maintained that the guard would be given another opportunity to earn a spot on the roster if and when he proved to be healthy.

"Masai did a good job of just telling me, 'I know what you're capable of now go show me, if you don't show me what I saw before you will be out of here.' I've got to respect [him] for that."

Stone took a knee to his surgically repaired right hip on Wednesday but returned to practice on Sunday and should be ready to go when the season kicks off next week.

Kyle Lowry (Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
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