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Lenny Wilkens

Raptors Falter Without Carter

The Raptors were less impressive in their 2001-2002 season, barely eking out a winning record of 42-40. The season started on an extremely optimistic note, and the team had put together an impressive record of 29-21 during the first half of the season. But in the final game before the All-Star break, Raptors star Carter aggravated an existing injury to his knee and was unable to rejoin the team as it began the second half of the season. The loss of Carter clearly hurt the Raptors, whose record for the remainder of the season was a dismal 13-19. In the first round of the playoffs, Toronto faced off against the Pistons. The two teams split the first four games, but Detroit triumphed in the fifth game to take the match.

In the early months of the 2002-2003 season, Wilkens came under heavy criticism as the Raptors plodded to a disappointing record of 8-25 by the opening days of January 2003. But Wilkens showed few signs that the pressure was getting to him. He didn't become the NBA's winningest coach by shrinking from adversity. Interviewed by Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, Wilkens said: "Every year as a coach, I'm going to take stock of what I'm doing and we'll reevaluate how we do things and ask if there's a better way." And if there is a better way, Wilkens almost certainly will find it.

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