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Kleiza returns following 11-month absence in Raptors' loss

01-12-2012 16:19 BJT

TORONTO, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Toronto Raptors forward Linas Kleiza returned to action in a 98-91 loss against the Sacramento Kings in Wednesday night's game.

The 27-year-old Lithuanian provided 10 points and three rebounds in 14 minutes 28 seconds off the bench in his first game since Jan. 21, 2011. Kleiza had microfracture surgery to correct a meniscal tear and chondral defect in his right leg last February. In total, the surgery forced Kleiza to miss 49 games.

Prior to the injury, the forward averaged 11.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 26.5 minutes in 39 games last season.

The five-year veteran began his career with the Denver Nuggets after being acquired on draft day from the Portland Trailblazers, who selected him 27th overall in the first round of the 2005 Entry Draft. In total, Kleiza played four seasons with the Nuggets, averaging 8.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in 301 games, 185 as a starter.

In the 2009 offseason, Kleiza and the Nuggets were unable to reach a fair contract, resulting in his departure from the NBA to join fellow NBA player, Josh Childress in Olympiakos of the Greek League. With his Greek team, Kleiza averaged 14.0 points and 5.1 rebounds in 31 regular season games and captured the Greek Cup. The team also qualified for the European league tournament where they finished runner-up to F.C. Barcelona.

His success in Europe caught the attention of Raptors General Manager Bryan Colangelo who signed Kleiza to an 18.8-million-U.S.-dollars, four-year contract in July, 2010.

Before joining the Raptors, Kleiza represented the Lithuania national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. Kleiza averaged 19.0 points and 7.1 rebounds, leading the team to a bronze medal and earning him All-Tournament honors.


Editor:Bai Yang |Source:

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