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Raptors' Valanciunas bounces back with career-high after DUI charge

English.news.cn   2014-04-10 13:37:12

TORONTO, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas scored a career-high 26 points in the team's 125-114 victory over Philadelphia 76ers in NBA action on Wednesday night.

The game was Valanciunas' first game since being charged with driving under the influence on April 7 in a tourist town two hours north of Toronto.

"He had a solid game. I don't know if it had anything to do with his off-court mishaps or not," said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey following the game.

"I liked his focus, I liked his intensity. He was engaged, no ill effects whatsoever. Hopefully put it all aside."

Valanciunas added 12 rebounds for his team-leading 23rd double-double of the season.

Following the game, the 2.11 meter center spoke to media for the first time since Monday's incident.

"It's been a rough couple of days. I had to find energy to come out and fight. I felt really good fan support," said Valanciunas following the game. "I feel great because everybody has supported me. I want to say sorry and I'm learning to be better."

The Lithuanian-born center is alleged for going through a drive-thru at 2:30am on Monday morning with open beer bottles in his car. The information was passed on to police who subsequently tracked down Valanciunas and charged him with exceeding 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

Following the incident, Valanciunas apologized to his teammates, coaches and management and hopes to put the incident behind him as his team begins a playoff run.

"He's a young kid, he's 21. Everything is a learning process to him, every single day, every single game, every single part of life. He's going to grow up," said teammate Kyle Lowry following the game.

"Like all of us here, we've grown up to make mistakes, but we have a chance to redeem ourselves."

Valanciunas will appear in court on April 22 in Collingwood, Ontario to face the consequences of his actions. Once a court decision has been reached, the NBA will issue a penalty (if necessary).

Previous charges from drinking under the influence of alcohol has resulted in two-game suspensions from the NBA.

Nets' coach Jason Kidd received a two game suspension during the beginning of the season after pleading guilty to driving while 'ability impaired' in July 2013.

Despite the incident, Lowry is proud of Valanciunas' development since entering the league last season.

In 77 games this season, Valanciunas has seen increases in his performance from last year's rookie season where he averaged 23.9 minutes, 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds in 62 games.

This season, Valanciunas has averaged 28.2 minutes, 11.2 points and 8.6 rebounds.

Editor: Yamei Wang
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