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in second hand Lense Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:51 am
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TORONTO - Coming off his teams most impressive early-season outing and preparing for the lowly 76ers, Raptors reserve Lou Williams stressed the importance of approaching both games the same way. He was pretty convincing and nearly got through the cliche unscathed before succumbing to a last-second Freudian slip. That was one of the things that we spoke about in our meeting this morning, Williams said ahead of Sundays game. That even though theyre 0-6 theyve been in every game. Theyve played some tough teams very closely and we expect another effort from them [tonight]. So were going to come in and take them serious, like an NBA team. Looks can be deceiving but, amazingly, the Philadelphia 76ers are in fact an NBA team. Per Williamss pre-game assertion and to the Raptors credit, they showed their winless visitors no mercy. I thought we were very professional and took a very professional approach, Dwane Casey said following his teams rout of the 76ers in a 120-88 victory. Those guys are a young team and I knew they were going to come out and play hard, and they did that in the first few minutes of the game. Our guys played the way we should play. Facing a cast of characters that even the staunchest hoops head would have difficulty picking out of a line-up, Toronto took the lead less than two minutes into Sundays contest and never relinquished. DeMar DeRozan was the first to identity and exploit a glaring mismatch, welcoming JaKarr Sampson - an un-drafted rookie - to the league, attacking him to the tune of seven points in three minutes. By the end of the opening quarter, they had scored 33 points, two days after dropping 28 on the Wizards, shooting 69 per cent - a percentage that didnt drop below 60 until early in the third frame. Lowrys third-quarter put-back stretched the lead over 20 for the first time and DeRozans nifty 360 lay-up, on the subsequent possession, padded it to 23. That advantage would become 41 in the fourth. Weve been in a lot of games where weve had big leads and lost them, said DeRozan, who scored a game-high 24 points on just 12 shots in 25 minutes of action. Weve been stressing being able to put our foot on peoples necks when we gain the lead and not give them any hope. We didnt let up at any point. We didnt give them no hope and thats how we have to play when we gain leads. Despite Philadelphias clumsy start and all the talk of taking them seriously, this had the makings of a let-down game for the Raptors, feeling good about themselves after acing their biggest early-season test on Friday. Even Casey feared it before the game. For a player to look across and not see a Hall-of-Famer or whatever, its kind of hard for them to see and understand that guys probably trying to audition for 29 other teams and trying to prove himself against you, said the Raptors coach. Thats probably a challenge. But, with a national audience watching on NBA TV, they looked the part of a team that now stands alone atop the Eastern Conference standings (for the first time - after seven games - in franchise history). Its great for the fans, Casey said of his teams standing in the East. Its great for the players to see that, but its not the most important thing right now. Our most important thing is developing a consistent personality. Sundays convincing win was another step in that process. On the other end of the spectrum, the 76ers - dead last in the East - are playing out this season in the hopes of, one day, being able to say the same. With an average age just over 23-years-old, Philadelphia is the youngest team in the league. Only three of their active players have more than 84 games of NBA experience under their belt. In contrast, the Raptors - who are not exactly a veteran club - dressed 13 players on Sunday, each of them having appeared in at least 148 contests. Brett Brown, a former assistant and Gregg Popovich disciple in San Antonio, may be the calmest 0-7 coach in history (though he did pick up one of the quickest technical fouls in recent memory, two minutes into the game). Why panic? Everythings going according to plan. Philadelphia owns the rights to four players selected in the top 12 of the last two drafts. None of them suited up in Toronto - Nerlens Noel (sixth pick in 2013, out - ankle injury), Michael Carter-Williams (11th in 2013 and last seasons Rookie of the Year, out - shoulder injury), Joel Embiid (third in 2014, likely out for the season - foot injury), Dario Saric (12th in 2014, playing in Turkish League). Theyre biding their time. Its a challenge that I really enjoy, said a surprisingly chipper Brown before his teams latest loss. The job that I have now is so different than where I came from because you have a bunch of 20-year-olds that have spent a year, maybe two years in college. I love coaching them, they play hard and I respect their work ethic. I respect their day-to-day energy and I try to convince them that it will pay off, it will add up, you are doing this for a reason. I dont want them to get beaten down by the win and loss column. Not too long ago, Casey and the Raptors were in a similar situation. When Casey took over ahead of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign, he inherited an inexperienced group, one that former general manager Bryan Colangelo has since admitted was designed to be bad. Only DeRozan and Johnson remain from that team. I was in the same position as a lot of them guys that are over there now, DeRozan said. I know what it takes to really start from scratch, how tough it really is. As long as you stay with it, keep working, slowly but surely itll turn around. Youve got to respect it because you have to start from somewhere. The 76ers may not have a single player from Sundays line-up around when theyre long-term plan finally starts to take shape. Casey, like Brown, used to speak of the process, preaching patience both in and outside of the locker room. He would point to the Spurs and the Pacers, using them as benchmarks. This is what were building towards, he would say. Now, the Raptors are the big brother. Brown can only hope to emulate their path and, like Casey, still be around when it begins to pay off. Personally, I have a lot of respect for the way theyve grown the program, Brown said of the Raptors. They showed Coach Casey some respect with a well-deserved contract extension and now theyve built something. Coming off last year, they feel good about themselves. You can actually see the growth of the program. So, on many levels, you look at that, given what were trying to do, there are parts of what I just said that you hope to duplicate. I mean its tough to establish a culture, Casey said, sympathizing with the position Brown finds himself in. To go from a winning culture to rebuilding is very difficult because your mindset is, each and every night out, you have an opportunity to win, whereas, when you are rebuilding with a young team, you are motivating them to go hard each and every night, to play physical, to play tough and it might not result in a W...and then to be resilent to come back from that the next night. Thats hard to do with a young team, to keep those spirits up and have them to be able to see the big picture. Cheap Nike Air Max Outlet . Dr. James Andrews is to operate next week on the 24-year-old pitcher, who made the AL All-Star team last year. Moore will be the first Rays pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery since Jason Isringhausen in June 2009. Discount Nike Air Max Wholesale . After a first half in which he thought "the lid was on the basket," the Toronto Raptors coach watched his squad mount a second half surge to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91. https://www.wholesalenikeairmaxshoes.com/cheap-air-max-270/. City has reached new heights under manager Manuel Pellegrini as they transition from big spending/immediate impact to perennial contender. Yaya Toures seeming discontent Tuesday may complicate that, as does the little issue of Financial Fair Play. Fake Nike Air Max Replica .Y. - Through three quarters, the Brooklyn Nets could not shake the NBAs worst team. Wholesale Nike Air Max From China . Patton told The Baltimore Sun that he took an Adderall pill four days before the season finished, trying to improve his short-term focus. "I took one because I was stupid," Patton told The Sun.NEW YORK – It was the second of two from Tyler Bozak and an overtime marker that saved the Leafs from complete disaster in the Big Apple, a three-game losing streak emphatically put to bed. Generally speaking, it was more of the same from a one-line wrecking machine which has carried the Leafs offensively all season, but especially since the calendar turned to 2014. Torontos top line of Bozak, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk has now combined for 35 goals in the new year or 10 more than the rest of the forwards combined in that span and a staggering 49 per cent of the teams total offence. Secondary scoring from the likes of Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri and Mason Raymond has been spotty. Kadri snapped a six-game skid with his 16th of the year against the Rangers, depositing a Nik Kulemin rebound beyond the grasp of Henrik Lundqvist. Two days earlier, Raymond scored the lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Columbus, then the third-straight for the Leafs. Such contributions, though, have been the exception rather than the norm in recent months with the top unit terrorizing opponents nightly. Kessel is on pace for 90 points and trails only Sidney Crosby in the scoring race. van Riemsdyk has smashed almost every previous career-high, already boasting 26 goals and 52 points. And Bozak, the most maligned first-line centre in the league, has managed 37 points in 40 games this season, including 23 in the past 23 games. "I think at the start of the year, we thought one of our strengths would probably be our balanced attack," Lupul told the Leaf Report before Wednesdays 3-2 overtime victory, "and it hasnt really been that for a number of different reasons, injury probably the first one you look to." Dave Bolland has missed almost the entire year, David Clarkson has offered little offensively and Kulemin only shows hints here and there of the offensive prowess that scored 30 goals only three seasons ago. Its been the second unit though, cemented by Kadri and Lupul, thats just been off somewhat, rarely running in concert with the Kessel-led trio. "We havent really had that game," said Lupul, "the breakout game where you score two or three or four goals." Though he remains on pace for a still respectable 24 goals and 48 points, the 30-year-old has just four goals in the past 19 games. He had a terrific chance to beat Lundqvist on a backhand rebound attempt in the second, only to be stymied by the right pad. His emergence down the stretch alongside Kadri would certainly stand to benefit the Leafs attack. "For me, usually thats what I look at is scoring chances because eventually theyll go in for me," said Lupul, who has felt better physically since the Olympic stoppage, the extended layoff offering opportunity to heal some nagging concerns. "Ive played long enough that I can self-evaluate and at the end of the game I know when I played a good game or a bad game for the most part. Right now, Im happy with my game to a point. Sometimes youve got to find a way to put the puck in the back of the net, especially when your teams down by one. But I feel good right now and I feel like were on the verge of having one of those games where we break out and score three or four goals." Lupul also stressed his belief that the eventual return of Bolland, who missed his 49th-straight game Wednesday, will aid in attempts for greater balance. "Obviously, theres a little bit of excitement to finally play a game where we have everyone and see how the team looks with Bozak, Kadri, Bolland, McClement and then all of our wingers," said Lupul. "Thats an exciting prospect for us to finally suit up that full lineup. And I think youll see, once we do that, the balanced attack will come a little bit. I mean, having Bolland centring your third line it makes a big difference." Goal-scoring has never been an issue for the Leafs this season. They remain one of the leagues highest-scoring teams, almost entirely because of the top lines dominance (and a productive, until recently, power play). But if that trio slows even a little down the stretch – shooting percentages tend fluctuate – and beyond that in the playoffs, the lack of balance could emerge as a real concern. Five Points 1. Messy Third Periods For the third time in four games after the Olympic break the Leafs dropped a third period lead, blowing a 2-0 deficit in stunning fashion against the Rangers. Dealt an opportunity to bury the home side early in the final frame with Brad Richards hauled off for tripping, Toronto managed to yield a pair of shorthanded goals in just over a minute. Giveaways by Cody Franson and then Kessel allowed Ryan McDonagh and Dominic Moore to strike and reignite a seemingly dead Madison Square Garden crowd. "Thats just unacceptable from our power-play group," said Kadri afterward. "We know that." It was, rather incredibly, the second time in less than a week that the club had allowed two shorthanded goals on the same power play. More concerning though was another evaporated third period lead. The Leafs carried such leads in Long Island and Montreal in recent days, only to fumble them away and eventually lose in overtime. Valuable points were lost in the process. Because they ended up taking the second point anyway in overtime – still handing one to New York – the Leafs jumped the idle Lightning for third in the Atlantic Division. "Weve got to look at it as two points that are huge right now," said head coach Randy Carlyle. "It ddoesnt feel so good right now because youre frustrated with the way it went, but tomorrow in the standings, itll show two points and then you move on.dddddddddddd" 2. Bollands Cloudy Status Lupul compared Bollands looming addition (more on that below) to a trade. "It was almost the same for me last year. I had the broken arm and came back and was able to add a little spark to the team," said Lupul, who had 18 points in 13 games upon return from the injury last spring. "I would expect Bolland to kind of do the same thing. It doesnt necessarily have to be with goals or assists, but just what he brings on a night to night basis. Weve certainly missed it. Youre putting in a guy with playoff experience; that is kind of the exact thing that you look to add at the trade deadline." Bollands return from a severed left ankle tendon has taken longer than expected and remains cloudy at best. He described the rehab process himself recently as a "slow mountain climb," one that has seen him out of the lineup since Nov. 2. The 27-year-old neared a return last week but suffered a setback and has since visited with a specialist in Carolina, who advised that the process continue moving forward. Uncertainty remains on when exactly hell be back with just 18 games remaining. 3. Trade Deadline Comes and Goes Quietly The Leafs ultimately remained quiet at Wednesdays trade deadline. Not yet a Cup contender in need of just a piece or two to get over the top, but not a bottom dweller selling assets either (as they were in years past) Nonis and his management team decided just to stand pat. "I think its easy to try to get caught up in what might be an exciting move, what may help you for a couple weeks," Nonis told reporters in Toronto. "Its easy to get caught up in that. [But] I dont think its a prudent way of approaching this day. At least, not until we have more assets to give. When you can give up first-round picks or you can give up top young players and not feel it, then youre ready to make those deals." Nonis made clear that their side was primarily interested in hockey deals at the deadline with rentals not aligning with the teams current state (theyre not ready to win). Selling pending UFAs (Raymond, Kulemin and McClement) additionally for minimal assets also didnt make much sense as theyd damage the team in the interim without yielding much in the way of worthwhile return. In the upswing from where theyve been as an organization in the past, the Leafs are, nonetheless, kind of in the middle at the moment. Good, but not great. A playoff team not quite worthy of Cup contention. And thus, remaining quiet rather than chasing an unrealistic dream was probably most logical. 4. Trade Deadline II As they ambled off the ice at MSG on Wednesday morning, Bozak and Raymond poked fun at the trade deadline frenzy. "Neuf to the Flyers," Raymond chirped. "Is it done?" Bozak responded, "I heard its a done deal." Dion Phaneuf had been absent from the morning skate, taking the morning off for maintenance. Such is the hysteria associated with the annual deadline and why its typically a nervous day for most players. "I dont think theres been a time where Ive been super nervous," Franson said before the 3pm deadline was to expire. "For a guy in my situation, I dont have a no-trade clause or anything like that, so whatever happens its going to happen and theres nothing I can do about it. Youre always kind of on the edge of your seat just to see if your name pops up on the ticker or whatever. Your life can change in a second. Thats always a little nerve-wracking. As far as really stressing about it, its not in your hands." 5. Trade Deadline III Carlyle recalled a messier trade deadline following Wednesdays game. While an assistant coach in Washington during the 2003-2004 season, he watched in horror as the Capitals shipped out the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Robert Lang, Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander in the lead-up to the Mar. 9 deadline. "And that wasnt a lot of fun," he said. Among the rewards in those trades were Tomas Fleischmann, Brooks Laich, Mike Green and a team that was bad enough to snatch the first overall selection in the 04 draft, one that yielded Alex Ovechkin. Stats-Pack 49 – Percentage of offence in 2014 from the top line of Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak. 35-25 – Combined goals for Kessel, van Riemsdyk and Bozak in the New Year versus those from the rest of the Toronto forwards in that same span. 1-1-1 – Leafs record versus the Rangers this season. 0-15 – Toronto power-play over the past seven games. 23 – Points in the past 23 games for Bozak, who scored his 13th and 14th goals of the year against the Rangers. 2 – Number of times in the past four games that the Leafs have allowed two shorthanded goals in the same two-minute power-play. 10 – Shorthanded goals scored against the Leafs this season, tied for most in the league. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-2Season: 21% (6th) PK: 1-1Season: 77.7% (28th) Quote of the Night "Gray. Bald. Old. All of the above." -Randy Carlyle on the effect of games like Wednesday, which saw his team blow a 2-0 lead on the power-play. Quote of the Night II "Work on our power-play I guess." -Jonathan Bernier, on how to better protect third period leads. Up Next The Leafs host the Flyers at home on Saturday before hitting the road for a challenging five-game road trip. ' ' '

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