Raptors sign Linas Kleiza to multi-year deal

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The Toronto Raptors have announced that they have signed forward Linas Kleiza to a multi-year deal. The deal is believed to be worth approximately $19 million over four years. 

The 25-year old Kleiza was born in Lithuania, but played both his high school and college ball in America. Kleiza spent the first four years of his career with the Nuggets, where his versatility and consistency made him a solid rotation player. (He was also given the nickname “Suite 200,” which is also the name of a popular Denver nightclub.)
Kleiza spent the 09-10 season in Greece, where he had an absolutely fantastic year; Kleiza averaged 17.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and led the Euroleague in scoring. 
Kleiza’s Euroleague numbers make this look like a solid deal for the Raptors — remember that Josh Childress only averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in his first Greek League season. The question, of course, is whether Kleiza’s success in Greece indicates that he’s taken his play to another level or that his game is best suited for overseas competition. 
In any case, Kleiza is a reliable player who can give good minutes at either forward spot, and those guys are generally good to have around. My only concern for Toronto is that they should be looking to rebuild, and committing $20 million to a role player is usually not a part of a successful rebuilding process. Still, the Raptors didn’t give Kleiza crazy money, and there may be a chance that Kleiza can be the kind of player for Toronto that he was for Olympiacos. 

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.