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Toronto may be getting better Linas Kleiza than the one who left Denver

Sep 7, 2010, 2:55 PM EDT

Kleiza_Lithuania.jpgIf you weren’t watching today — you know, because you have a job and limited love for Lithuanian basketball — you missed the Linas Kleiza show.

Kleiza dropped 30 points on China going 14 for 22 from the floor, and he did it all without taking a three. With the game close midway through the fourth quarter Kleiza took over and dropped 10 straight on China, his own personal little 10-3 run, and that decided the game.

Kleiza had been a solid part of the Denver bench a couple years ago, but left for a season to play in Greece for Olympiakos (along side Josh Childress, who returns to the Suns this season).

Now he comes back to the NBA with the Euro-styled Toronto Raptors and with a more rounded game, he said in an interview run on Canada’s Slam sports. Oh, and there are subtle digs at Denver in there.

“I just felt it was a good move by me to improve my career and improve as a player,” Kleiza said of the move to Greece. “I had a big role on a very big team, a very good team. That kind of helped improve all my skills and allow me to show what I wasn’t able to do in Denver.

“In Denver I was a role player and I did it pretty good,” he said of his spot on the roster backing up superstar Carmelo Anthony. “But coming back here and showing I could do a lot more things I’m not just that player that I was in Denver. That’s why I want to go back to Toronto and prove myself all over again. Show people that I was a better player than I was in Denver.”

In post-Bosh Denver, the role is there to be carved out as a top scorer, as a go to guy. If he can create it. Leandro Barbosa will be directing the offense and there will be Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan will be getting theirs, too. But Kleiza’s inside out game could fit well with a team that will be up-tempo and with motion in the offense.

It’s hard to predict what Toronto will look like this season, but an improved Kleiza could find himself in the role he felt blocked from getting in Denver.

  1. adam - Sep 7, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    I’m from denver, I liked LK, he was good, just didn’t get enough minutes
    if he wants to show he’s better then in Denver, he’d have to make the allstar team

  2. adam - Sep 7, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    I’m from denver, I liked LK, he was good, just didn’t get enough minutes
    if he wants to show he’s better then in Denver, he’d have to make the allstar team

  3. crisangilo ezowos - Sep 7, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    with Jay Triano learning some from the team U.S.A. and the international(team)game, one could never tell the future of the raptors,with world players like, Barbosa,L.K., Anderson, jose, and the determined, young gunz, Davis and Alabi, to prove themselves worthy of an Nba job and last of all B.C. will be doing his forte in dealing with having a competitive team and to prove that Toronto is better without Cb4.

  4. Robert - Sep 7, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    “In post-Bosh Denver” should be “In post-Bosh Toronto”.
    You guys really need to proof-read your stuff.

  5. ben - Sep 7, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    Well said dave, Americans are nothing but a bunch of bums…….. Toronto, will always have an uphill battle in the NBA, but now that BC is re buiding I think there will be a lot more of you ignorant Americans eating your own words.

  6. Eric - Sep 7, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Haha, my Canadian friends are just like Dave and Ben, super sensitive about everything that is American. If you read the article again, you won’t find any negative remarks directed towards Canada. As a matter of fact, the author is hinting at a promising future for the Raptors while directing any sort of negativity towards Denver. To be honest, I think Canada is a great country with tons to offer. I’ve visited many times and had great experiences each time.

  7. tyson - Sep 7, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    cant wait for the 2011-2012 raps season, all these big sports blogs,columns,channels are placing Toronto at the bottom – everyone’s in for a “polite” surprise, go raps!
    “polite” cuz we’re Canadian and that’s how we roll :)

  8. Al - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Sorry for Canadians who slam Americans. Americans are pretty much just like us Canadians, and there are jerks in both countries.
    Kleiza was a great pick up by the Raptors and getting rid of that bag of crap Turdolou for anyone let alone Barbosa was a miracle. Kleiza will be so much better than the Turd it will be fun to watch.

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