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Kleiza's play in Olympics is good sign for Raptors

The Sports Xchange

Raptors fans wondering which Linas Kleiza will show up this season had to be encouraged by his performance for Lithuania in the Summer Olympics.

Kleiza had a respectable season in his Raptors debut in 2010-11, averaging 11.2 points while shooting 43.8 percent.

But his season ended prematurely because of a knee injury that required surgery, and although he was able to play in 49 of Toronto's 66 games last year, his numbers didn't come close to matching the previous season (9.7 points on 40.2 percent shooting).

The good news about Kleiza's performance in London begins with the fact that he stayed healthy. But equally important was that he went up against some of the NBA's top players and performed well in losses to Argentina, France and the United States.

Kleiza had 20 points and seven rebounds against the Manu Ginobili-led Argentina team in Lithuania's first game in London, then nearly matched those numbers (17 points and seven assists) while facing Tony Parker and the French squad.

But no doubt, the forward's proudest moment came against LeBron James and the powerful United States team, when he made half his 20 shots during a 25-point performance that nearly lead his country to a monumental upset.

Alas, Kleiza returned to Canada without a medal, after Lithuania lost to rival Russia in the quarterfinals of the single-elimination portion of the competition. He had undoubtedly his worst game of the tournament in that one, missing six of his seven shots and finishing with just four points.

Kleiza's scoring is expected to be a valuable asset for the Raptors this season on a club that improved its depth in the offseason with the addition of guards Landry Fields and Kyle Lowry. The latter is expected to push Jose Calderon alongside Fields and Kleiza on Toronto's potent second unit.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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