2002-03: Injuries Halt High Hopes

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2002-03: Injuries Halt High Hopes

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The Raptors were hoping to rebound from a disappointing season, and reclaim the success they achieved two seasons prior, with GM Glen Grunwald acquiring guard Lindsey Hunter from the Lakers, and forward Lamond Murray from the Cavaliers in two separate deals in the offseason. These moves were made to solidify an already strong Raptors lineup, and give the team some more veteran experience.

However, the season began on a sour note as Lamond Murray suffered a lisfranc ligament tear in his right midfoot in a preseason game and had to miss the entire regular season. This was a sign of things to come as fellow newcomer Lindsey Hunter would eventually miss 53 games, as well as Vince Carter missing 39, and Antonio Davis missing 29. By the end of the year the Raptors set two dubious NBA records; the only team in NBA history to not dress 12 players for a single game in a season and the all-time high for man-games lost due to injury with 519, surpassing the Boston Celtics’ 480 in 1996-97.

With all of these injuries the Raptors had a tough time living up to the preseason expectations -- over a span of 17 games from December 8 – January 10 the team won only one game -- leaving the club with a record of 14-34 at the all-star break. Vince Carter was once again selected as a starter by the fans in the All-Star Game, but just prior to tip off, Carter handed the honour over to Michael Jordan, who was playing in the final season of a storied career.

The Raptors never seemed to get their wheels in motion during the season, other than a ten-game stretch where they won seven games from January 26 – February 21, the team encountered losing streaks of four or more games six times throughout the season. The Raptors went on to lose the final eight games of the season and finish up with a record of 24-58, their worst record since finishing 16-66 in 1997-98.

But that record would eventually transform into the No. 4 overall pick in the 2003 draft and bring another star to the Raptors; Chris Bosh.

On April 17, a day after the final game of the season, head coach Lenny Wilkens and the Toronto Raptors reached a mutual agreement that concluded Wilkens’ coaching tenure with the team after three seasons.

Morris Peterson stepped it up in his sophmore season when the team was suffering from injury problems.

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