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  • TORONTO - As over 20,000 shell-shocked Raptors fans finally exhaled, juggling their emotions after a bizarre evening at the Air Canada Centre, Dwane Casey laced into his team in a nearby locker room. New York Jets Jerseys . His post-game pep talk will "remain in-house", which usually means it was R-rated in nature. Did this feel like a win, Amir Johnson was asked after it was all said and done. "Of course," he exclaimed, taking issue with the question. "What? Yes! Did I check the box score wrong? We definitely won."  "Does it feel like a win? What?" The box score read 115-113, a pivotal win for the Raptors, who took a 3-2 series lead Wednesday and now sit on the cusp of advancing to the Conference Semifinals, but you wouldnt know if from taking in the head coachs post-game discourse. "You wouldnt want to hear it," Casey said, asked about his emotions as his team squandered a 26-point lead in allowing the Nets to score 44 during a fourth-quarter collapse that was very nearly fatal. "We just didnt play smart. They are a very veteran team, they are going to take advantage of the mistakes you make. We wrote the book on the mistakes in the fourth quarter." "Every mistake that you could think about, we made in the fourth quarter." Just about. The Raptors lead was 22 going into the final frame before their previously spotless performance began to unravel in a hurry. With a lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and reserves Andray Blatche, Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson for all but eight seconds in the quarter, the Nets hit 13 of their 21 shots, including five of nine attempts from three-point range. They got into the paint and to the line at will, putting on a clinic offensively. Veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett did not play a second. With just over three minutes remaining, Torontos nightmare became reality. The sellout crowd that had rocked the building all night, the mob of white-shirted Raptor zealots that shouted "Broooook-lyn" minutes earlier - mimicking a chant made famous at Nets home games - they went dead silent. The Nets Johnson drained a three to tie the game and Toronto was on the ropes. Visions of their franchise-worst 27-point collapse in a December loss to Golden State flashed through everyones mind. Infamous Raptors losses of the oh-so-painful past, the beloved Maple Leafs and their tragic Game 7 demise. The city has seen it all. So how would this team let them down? Toronto led by five with nine seconds left, a semi-comfortable scenario provided they refrain from doing something uncommonly foolish. Just dont give up a three or commit a foul. Naturally, they did both. As Williams swung the ball to Anderson in the corner, the Raptors Johnson lunged at him, committing his sixth foul and surrendering the rare four-point play, Brooklyns second of the quarter. With six second to go, the Raptors now up by three, Casey opted to play it safe and send Blatche to the line for two shots. The right call. Intentionally missing the second free throw, Blatche was able to secure his own rebound before letting the Raptors off the hook in tossing the ball away. "We cant live that way," said an irate Casey after the game. "We cant make this many mental mistakes." Buzzer sounds and the Raptors win. The Raptors win? They had mucked it up in just about every way you could imagine, like a greatest hits of Raptor blunders, but they pulled it out. If that seems out of character with what weve come to expect from this franchise, so be it. Isnt that just the perfect representation of a season, an improbably playoff run that defies all semblance of logic? "We made some boneheaded mistakes," Johnson admitted, "but we finished off the game and thats all that really matters." This is a different team producing different results and a point guard who has a lot to do with that change in fortune. "Honestly, hes a hell of player, man," DeMar DeRozan said of Kyle Lowry, who scored 36 points, a playoff career-high, also matching the most hes ever scored in an NBA game. "Hes just a dog. He makes you want to bring your A-game every single night because you know hes going to lay it out there with them." With DeRozan blanketed by multiple defenders all night, Lowry took over. Tied with a minute left, Lowry hit the biggest shot of the night, a step-back three-pointer, followed by another dagger from inside the paint on the subsequent possession. "Sometimes it calls for that situation," said the point guard. "Usually its [DeRozan] doing that but tonight the way they played him it gave me an opportunity to get to the basket and get some shots off down the stretch. Our teammates count on me and him to make the right decisions, make the big plays and tonight it was fortunate enough they were guarding him tightly and I got it going a little bit." Lowry wouldnt let his team lose, willing them to their most important victory of the campaign, and no one seems the least bit surprised, nor should they. "Every time hes out there on the floor Im going to give it my best effort," DeRozan added, "because I know hes going to do the same." "We know theres not going to be no big blowouts either way because both teams are going to fight until the end," he continued. "It just shows you how much weve matured over the season and understanding what we have to do to stay in games and closeout games." DeRozan became the first Raptors player to reach the 20-point plateau in four straight playoff games since Vince Carter in 2001, scoring 23 on Wednesday thanks in large part to another impressive showing from the free throw line, where he was 12-for-13. For the first time in nearly 13 years that Raptors have taken the advantage in a playoff series, now they look to close it out in Brooklyn on Friday.  "Were happy we won today but weve got to do a better job Friday," said Jonas Valanciunas, who had 16 points and six rebounds Wednesday. "Were here, were excited about being in the playofffs, somewhere we havent been before, a young team, expecting mistakes," Casey said. "Weve got to crack the whip and learn from it. This is a hell of a time to start learning, going into Game 6 of the playoffs." Chris Herndon Jersey .com) - Marian Gaborik scored his sixth goal in the last four games to help the Los Angeles Kings top the Arizona Coyotes, 4-2, Saturday at Staples Center. Chris Herndon Jets Jersey . The 22-year-old slugger, who is no stranger to adversity, made up for it at the end.TSN Baseball Analyst Steve Phillips answers several questions surrounding the game each week. This weeks topics include Joe Maddon joining the Chicago Cubs, the most prized free agents on the market this offseason and the success of the San Francisco Giants. 1) Major League Baseball has a policy that organizations cannot make major announcements during the World Series. They dont want anything to take away from the action on the field. So with Game 7 behind us and a champion crowned, clubs can move forward with their offseason planning. Unless something dramatic happens the Chicago Cubs will announce that former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has been hired to be their manager. Maddon had a .517 winning percentage in nine seasons as Rays manager, including 90-plus wins in five of the last seven seasons. He leaves Tampa Bay with the organization in a state of flux thanks to a weakened farm system and general manager Andrew Friedmans move to the Dodgers. It was time for Maddon to leave Tampa Bay. It is time for him to lead the Cubs. Teams have different needs and considerations that depend upon the time and place they find themselves. Rebuilding franchises have certain needs and those needs are different than those of a consistent winner. Large market franchises can consider things that small market teams dont even think about. Leadership has the fit those that need to be led. Joe Maddon is a different manager. He is a renaissance man. He wears cool glasses. He rides his bike to the ballpark. He is a charitable man. He is a bit quirky and very creative in his management style. He had 30 different themed-dress road trips for his players since the 2008 season. He has brought in a meringue band and a magician to the clubhouse. He has brought in DJs to play the players favourite songs. He has even brought different animals into the clubhouse to make things interesting. Nobody else does this stuff. Bill Belichick he is not. He has had the magic touch. His players have fun. They play relaxed. He keeps it fresh and interesting. The monotony of a baseball season can tale a toll on the energy of a team. The Rays players would show up to the park wondering what their wacky manager would do next. Maddons style worked wonders in Tampa with his young eager roster. He was different but for many of the young players he was all they knew. He was the only big league manager that many of the players had ever experienced. There is a certain na?veté to young players who are unspoiled by the rigours of the big league life. They thought his approach was fun and cool. His approach was well-suited for the roster in Tampa Bay. The Cubs are in a rebuilding process. They have a ton of young phenoms on their way to take over Chicago. Their roster resembles that of the Rays despite the significant difference in the market, stadium and expectations. Maddon is the perfect manager at the perfect time. There is not a better man to teach young kids how to win at the major league level. The Cubs are on the verge of something special. I expect them to spend big money for starting pitching and to make the transition from interesting young team to a club with expectations. Make no mistake; Chicago isnt Tampa Bay. The market is different. The expectations are different. The media is different. The budgets will be different. Heck, Maddon already realizes his cheques have more zeroes on the backend than they did with the Rays. The pressure to be the savior in Chicago will be there after a short honeymoon period. At some point he will have to work his magic instead of just bringing a magician in to entertain his players. It wont all turn around for the Cubs in one season. There will be growing pains. But I believe Maddon is a curse buster and he will bring a World Series Championship to the Cubbies within his speculated five-year, $25M deal. He could manage my team any day of the week. 2) The free agent class this off-season will be quite compelling. There are some major impact pitchers and hitters available. There will be millions and millions of dollars thrown around for the holidays. I cant wait. It has always felt like monopoly money to me. I remember offering a player a three-year deal of $4.5M, $5.0M and $5.5M. I was cavalier about it. The .5 difference was a $500,000 increase each year. That is right, I spoke about a five-hundred thousand dollars as a fraction. The bottom line is that there are going to be hundreds of .5s thrown at players this offseason. There are three No. 1 starters that will be available to teams at some point after the World Series. Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields are all looking at huge paydays. They are all three difference-makers. To put in perspective where these deals may go; Scherzer turned down a six-year, $144M offer from the Tigers. I wouldnt have the guts as an agent to have my client say no to a deal like that. Would you? When it comes to position players there are several interesting bats available. The Dodgers Hanley Ramirez will be considered by a number of clubs as a shortstop and/or third baseman. At his best he is a unique power and speed combination that can vie for a batting title. Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants will be a hot commodity in the light third basemen market. He brings personality and a solid bat. The Tigers Victor Martinez had a huge year hitting .335/.409/.565 with 32 homers and 102 RBI. Finally, Nelson Cruz brings the elusive right-handed power bat. He hit .271 with 40 homers and 108 RBI. He can deliver his own production and help those in the lineup around him. Here is where I would spend my money: If I need a starting pitcher I will take Lester over Scherzer and Shields. Scherzer may command the biggest contract and Shields the least. I love Lesters make-up and character. I love his competitiveness and toughness. He is good in big games and a bulldog and workhorse. If I need a hitter I would spend it on Victor Martinez. He is by far the oldest of the good hitters, 36 years old, but he is the most professional, consistent personality and performer. Plus his contract length will be shorter than those of the others. There are a couple of potential sleeper value picks in the market. There is a Cuban defector, an outfielder, named Yasmani Tomas. He is not yet available to accept offers until he clears the proper immigration status but he is looking at getting a big-time deal. He has been evaluated to be somewhere between the White Sox Jose Abreu and the Red Sox OF Rusney Castillo. Tomas is a corner outfielder with legitimate power. There have been some comparisons to Yoenis Cespedes. Some believe he will be better than the Red Sox slugger because of better make-up. His deal could come close to $100 million. The sleeper in the pitching market is 26-year-old right-hander Kenta Maeda of the Hiroshima Carp in the Japanese Professional League. He has a career 82-58 record with a 2.43 ERA. He will have to go through the posting system but even so he may be a value free agent for a club. This offseason portends to be quite exciting. For the right amount of money some clubs will pass go and collect $200 on their way to the playoffs in 2015. 3) The Giants are an amazing story. It is so tough to win a single World Series let alone three in five years. Manager Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Famer. He is the tenth manager to win three championships. The other nine are already in Cooperstown. General Manager Brian Sabean is heeaded to upstate New York as well for his place in the Hall. Sam Darnold Jets Jersey. He has done an amazing job putting together rosters that never seem to have the biggest stars. He just finds old school baseball players who make plays when they need to be made. He finds gamers. The Giants never spend for the biggest free agents, in fact they are more often shopping among the second tier players. To be a dynasty a club has to win often and consistently. They need to show up every year and deliver. They need to have a core of established players and leaders. And they need to win with having expectations of greatness on their back. They play and win with a bullseye on their back. The Giants have shown an uncanny ability to win the end of season tournament in baseball. Yes, that is what the playoffs are. They are a tournament consisting of the five teams in the AL and five teams in the NL that meet the necessary criteria to advance. At the end of that tournament we crown a winner of the tournament and they get what we call the World Series trophy. It is fun. It is special. It is exciting. But the winner of the tournament is not necessarily the best team in baseball. They are just the team that played the best. A clubs record over 162 games is by far a better indicator of how they stack up against their peers. The team with the worst record in baseball if added to the playoff format has a chance to win if they get hot over a 12-to-20 game time frame. Think about it, all they would need to do is go 12-8 and they can win it all. Sure it would be against the best teams but it could certainly happen. To be a dynasty in baseball, expectations matter. The Giants did not make the playoffs in 2009. They finished in third place in the NL West. So there were not expectations that they would be among the teams to beat in 2010. They surprised us that year by winning 92 games and the NL West title. Heading into the playoffs the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL as they had won 97 regular season games. The Yanks (95 wins) and Rays (96 wins) were by far considered more legitimate candidates to win it all. Credit the Giants for defying the odds though and winning the Series. In 2011, the Giants finished eight games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in second place in the NL West. Eleven teams had a better record than the Giants that season. Heading in to 2012 once again there were not huge expectations that the Giants were a force to be reckoned with. Yet again they surprised us and won the NL West with 94 wins. They had two less wins than the Reds and four less than the Nationals. Despite the fact that most people thought the Yanks and Nationals would square off in the World Series, it was the Giants beating the Rangers. Bochy worked his magic again. The rollercoaster ride continued in 2013 however as the Giants ended with a losing record of 76-86 and were tied with the Padres for third/fourth place in division. Coming off of such a down year without any significant signings in the offseason the Giants were an afterthought when picking contenders. The (Vegas) odds were 20-1 that they would win the World Series. In fact they had the same odds as the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland As, LA Angels and Texas Rangers. So they were considered to have anywhere from the ninth to twelfth best chance of winning it all. Of course, we know they defied those odds and won it all again. By the way, Vegas had the Royals with a 50-1 chance of winning the Series. The 2014 World Series was the first Series ever that included two teams that each had less than 90 wins in the regular season. What does that tell us? It tells me that the Giants and Royals qualified for the tournament by the skin of their teeth and then got hot at the right time and beat teams that were better than they were to go to the World Series. It sounds like I am diminishing the Giants (and Royals) accomplishments. I dont mean to do so. I know how hard it is to get to the playoffs. I just want to be sure that when we start to look at teams as all-time greats that we are being appropriate. This is not a dynasty. It is very good franchise which has played its best baseball at the right time to win three tournaments in the last five years. And they have done it while never being the best team in the game. Trust me I would take it. You wouldnt have to call me a dynasty either. 4) I have learned that what I think and what I feel stems from my own experiences. And very often the things I take away from events are different than some others. For instance, I head home from the World Series thinking more about the Royals than the Giants. I guess I can connect with the team that lost the World Series more than the one that won. My New York Mets teams made the playoffs in 1999 and 2000 and we advanced and lost in the World Series to the Yankees in 2000. Yes, I can relate to the loser more than the winner. What I have also learned is just because I lost, it doesnt make me a loser. There is a thought out there among franchises and fan bases that if their team doesnt win a championship that it is a failed season. I understand that certain cities use this as a barometer more than others. How many times have we heard Yankee fans and the front office say it is a World Series championship or bust. They believe that if they dont win a World Series that the season was a waste and a failure. That thinking is so unrealistic and arrogant. Stop and think for a moment of all of the successes the Royals had on the way to Game 7 of the World Series. Twice durng the season they went on hot streaks and stormed past the Detroit Tigers to take over first place in the AL Central. They did fall back each time but they won enough to finish second in their division to edge out the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot. If you had told Royals fans that they would be a Wild Card team before the season would they have signed up for it? Youre darn right they would. They hadnt been to the playoffs in decades. They didnt stop there though. They beat the As in dramatic fashion to advance to the ALDS. They then beat the team with the best record in the AL, the LA Angels, to advance to the ALCS and then they beat the Baltimore Orioles to advance to the Series. As a team this group of young men grew up. Their baseball ages advanced exponentially from the experience of playing great October baseball. They gained confidence as individuals and as a team that they didnt always have during the season. They went from being streaky to being consistent. They turned losses into just losses and not into losing streaks. The Royals re-energized a community. The fans came out of the woodwork. People were still fans, they just didnt trust caring for their team again. They had been disappointed for 29 years. They cherished the memories of 1985. This run in October brought back all of the emotions from decades ago. I dont know about you but sure doesnt sound like a failure. It is an unbelievable success. The players improved and matured. The fans came back to life and the spark of hope has been ignited. I was at Game 7 in Kansas City. The fans cried afterwards. They were tears of disappointment but they were tears of passion too. They were tears that washed away the pain of 29 years of waiting and suffering. Sometimes we need a good cry. There are good times ahead for the Royals. So every other city can believe that the Royals failed but just dont tell Kansas City fans. They know better. Cheap Raiders JerseysCheap Vikings Jerseys Cheap Dolphins Jerseys Cheap Bears Jerseys Cheap 49ers Jerseys Cheap Giants Jerseys Cheap Seahawks Jerseys Cheap Packers Jerseys Cheap Broncos JerseysCheap Patriots Jerseys Cheap Cowboys Jerseys Cheap Steelers Jerseys Cheap Eagles Jerseys Cheap Lions Jerseys Cheap Saints Jerseys Cheap Redskins Jerseys ' ' '
      September 12, 2018 2:58 AM MDT
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