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Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan will reportedly return to action on Thursday night against the Charlotte Hornets after being sidelined by a groin injury.
DeRozan suffered the injury back on November 28 and at the time it was felt that the Raptors could struggle to hold on to their spot at the top of the Eastern Conference.
However, Toronto have gone 11-6 in his absence and sit just a half-game behind the Atlanta Hawks for that same top spot after seemingly coping well without him.
Nevertheless, his return will be a welcome boost for coach Dwane Casey as their offense will undoubtedly improve, and after 17 games without him, he may well be ready to return later this week.
“Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan slated to return next Thursday vs Hornets after missing last 17 games with a left thigh injury, sources told Yahoo,” Marc Spears reported.
The Raptors have one more game before then when they take on the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, but they will then have three days of practice to reacclimatise DeRozan with his teammates and prepare for what looks to be an easy home game against the Hornets in his first contest back on the court.
At the time of his injury, DeRozan was leading the Raptors in scoring, but point guard Kyle Lowry has stepped up in his absence and overtaken him in that category during his spell on the sidelines.
However, DeRozan is averaging 19.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.6 minutes per game this season, and he will hope to play a pivotal role down the stretch of the regular season to keep the Raptors in contention for the number one seeding in the East.