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TORONTO - As Amir Johnson took a seat, having just picked up his sixth foul towards the end of Thursdays first overtime period, Patrick Patterson fouling out minutes earlier, Dwane Casey and his coaching staff mulled over their next move. Huddling up, Casey consulted with his assistants for over 30 seconds before looking to the far side of his bench and reluctantly calling for Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors starting centre had been a spectator since late in the third quarter, amounting to roughly an hour of real time spent on the bench since he was last on the floor. As his coach feared, Valanciunas was more than a little rusty, playing 25 seconds in the first OT frame and the bulk of the second until Casey opted to go with Tyler Hansbrough to close the game in the third and final period of extra time. "It really wasnt fair to Jonas," Casey said in hindsight, following his teams marathon 134-129 loss to Washington. "It wasnt his fault." Upon reentering, Toronto immediately ran a pick-and-roll for Valanciunas, however the pass from Greivis Vasquez - who was trapped on the right elbow - was mistimed and ultimately deflected before it reached Valanciunas in the middle of the key, the turnover charged to Vasquez. A few minutes later, Valanciunas received the ball on the left block and with the clock winding down he flipped up a quick shot that was swatted by Marcin Gortat, his first of two field goal attempts in the period, both blocked by Gortat. With just over one minute remaining in double OT, the game tied at 116, Valanciunas negated a Vasquez runner, needlessly tipping in the shot that was already on its way down, above the cylinder. The look of frustration on the sophomores face said it all. This was not his night. The Raptors were outscored by 14 points in the 29 minutes that Valanciunas was on the floor. "I feel really sad," Valanciunas lamented, with his head down after the game. "I feel really bad right now. I could do a much better job than what I did." Valanciunas lost more than his rhythm, sitting as long as he did in the second half of Thursdays ball game. His confidence appeared to be at an all-time low. The second-year centre has had a rough couple of weeks, averaging 7.1 points and 7.6 rebounds, shooting 45 per cent in 24 minutes per in his last eight games. Over the previous eight contests, he put up averages of 15.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, shot 58 per cent from the field and logged just over 29 minutes a night. Perhaps fatigue has played a factor - he eclipsed his minute total from his rookie season last week - but the most noticeable variation in his approach hinders on an immeasurable concept that he has downplayed in the past. Swagger. Valanciunas is a different animal when he plays with that edge, anger and fire, when he gets outside of his head, stops over-thinking the game and just plays basketball. Too often you can almost see his thought process on the court, his movements are robotic as he aims to avoid disaster, fearful of making a mistake that will draw the ire of his head coach. However, hes at his best when he plays freely and Casey knows it. "The key is patience, not getting down on yourself, have fun," Casey said after morning shoot-around on Thursday. "I mean youre playing basketball. Theres no pressure on JV to produce. The pressure is on DeMar (DeRozan) and Kyle (Lowry) and Amir, the older guys." Given the unreasonably high preseason expectations its easy to overlook the fact that Valanciunas is still only 21-year-old, playing in his first full season after missing a sizeable chunk of his rookie campaign due to injury. Hes had an eventful year, participating in Summer League for the Raptors and competing with Lithuania in the FIBA qualifying tournament during the offseason. Hes still learning the NBA game, getting fully accustomed to his surroundings and most importantly finding his way as a player. None of that is lost of Casey, who refuses to put the cart before the horse when it comes to the development of his young centre. "I told him to stay with it," Casey said after Valanciunas logged just 17 minutes in Tuesdays win over Cleveland. "Right now hes pressing so much. [I] just told him to relax [and] play basketball." On account of their unexpected success this season the Raptors ultimate objective has been altered slightly. Although theyre now looking ahead to the playoffs and hoping to make some noise come April, their primary goal has not changed. Casey is still focused on developing his young players, namely Valanciunas and fellow sophomore Terrence Ross. "The hardest thing to do is to develop and win at the same time," Casey said. "Luckily weve got some wins and these guys are developing at the same time. Its the hardest thing to do because a lot of times theyre in there when they really dont deserve to, not as much lately but in the first part of the year." However, Casey wont coddle either sophomore with unconditional playing time. Valanciunas, like Ross, has had the opportunity to play and learn through his mistakes but the criteria for remaining on the floor long enough to do so has been made clear since the get go. "Offensively right now, hes not making his post moves, but thats going to come," Casey said. "Get some sweat shots, get some tip-ins, go to the offensive boards, screen. Do some of the sweat jobs and that will help him get his rhythm in the post." The process is gradual and, as Casey reminds us, its not going to happen overnight. Valanciunas possesses the ability, the desire and the work ethic to be a top tier NBA centre but its not going to happen in the middle of his second season. It takes time and no one in the Raptors organization will rush him. For now, Valanciunas is a matchup play. His minutes will continue to be sporadic as Casey leans on quicker, more experienced and versatile defenders in Johnson and Patterson some nights, depending on the opponent and whichever version of Valanciunas comes to play. Through it all, he cant lose focus and most importantly he cant lose his confidence. Hes got to keep his head up - on and off the floor - continue to work and learn whether hes in the game or on the bench. The Raptors are exercising patience with their young big man but he needs to be patient with himself. LaRoy Reynolds Jersey . - Jordan Addesis shootout goal helped the Plymouth Whalers to a 3-2 win over the Sault Ste. Keanu Neal Jersey . Zdeno Chara scored with 13 seconds left in regulation after David Krejci tied it late, lifting the Bruins to a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night in a game that saw Orpik taken from the ice on a stretcher. http://www.falconsapparelsshop.com/sean-...rsey-c-58/ .The Toronto Raptors guard, who will represent the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Game in New Orleans on Sunday, says he doesnt complain in the face of adversity "because I know this little girl is just happy for anything. Justin Hardy Jersey . The question all fans want to know heading into this light heavyweight affair is will Rua display his true potential. Working with UFC welterweight fighter Demian Maias team in Sao Paulo Brazil and having training partners such as fellow UFC stand outs Fabio Maldonado and Daniel Sarafian, the 32-year old feels very well prepared for Friday nights encounter. Brett Favre Jersey . Kenny Miller scored from the penalty spot and Camilo Sanvezzo came off the bench to add two late goals as the Whitecaps kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-0 victory over the sagging Impact on Saturday afternoon.BALTIMORE -- During a season in which he languished on the disabled list and jockeyed between the major leagues and minors for the good of the team, Miguel Gonzalez finally had his signature moment. Not just for the year, but for his career. Gonzalez pitched a four-hitter for his first complete game, and the Baltimore Orioles hit three home runs off Dylan Axelrod in a 6-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. Gonzalez (8-7) had a season-high eight strikeouts, walked one and allowed only one hit through the first seven innings -- a line drive single to Ryan Ludwick in the fifth. The Reds added two singles in the eighth before leaving the bases loaded, and Jay Bruce singled with two outs in the ninth. Gonzalez then retired Ludwick on a grounder to complete the shutout. "Its an awesome feeling," the right-hander said. David Lough and Jonathan Schoop hit solo shots before Chris Davis connected with a man on in the fourth to make it 4-0. That was more than enough offence for Gonzalez, who has given up four runs over his last 28 1-3 innings. In his previous 64 major league starts, Gonzalez pitched eight innings on four occasions. This time, he used 117 pitches to go the distance. "When you have not too many pitches going out to the seventh, eighth inning I think thats what helps," Gonzalez said. Gonzalez missed 16 days in June with a strained oblique and twice was optioned to the minors because the Orioles needed roster room. Through it all, he never complained -- a trait that endeared him to manager Buck Showalter. Thats one reason why Showalter stuck with Gonzalez in the ninth inning after his pitch count soared past 100. "I dont want to say he deserves it, but Miggy is such a team guy," Showalter said. "Hes such a professional, and that was a professional outing." Every time Showalter called Gonzalez into his office to tell him about a pending trip to the minors, the manager expressed appreciation for the sacrifice and promised a rapid return. "Theres a real trust there," Showalter said. "He knows we like him and knows were going to try to keep him in the best position to do good things for our team and do good things for his career.dddddddddddd." The victory was the eighth in 10 games for the AL East-leading Orioles during a homestand that concludes Thursday night, when Baltimore will attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the sinking Reds. Making his third start of the season, Axelrod (1-1) gave up four runs and five hits in six innings. "He made a couple mistakes and they got hit out of the ballpark," manager Bryan Price lamented. "I thought he competed well. Unfortunately, we didnt do anything offensively at all to give him any support. Thats been an underlying theme to our second half." Cincinnati has lost 15 of 21 and is 6-13 in interleague play, 1-8 on the road. The Reds are 15-29 since the All-Star break. Price has seen so many losses during a recently, hes run out of ways to explain it. "Were in the game hitting .219 as a club in the second half," he said. "Thats legendary stuff. I dont even know what to tell you guys, to be honest with you." Axelrod retired the first eight batters he faced before Schoop hit his 14th homer, the second in two nights. Lough led off the fourth with his first home run since June 7, Nelson Cruz doubled and Davis hit an opposite-field drive to left. Davis has 25 home runs and 71 RBIs this season, decent numbers except when compared his totals last year: 53 homers and 138 RBIs. Schoop added a two-run double in the seventh off Carlos Contreras, who walked the first two batters he faced. TRAINERS ROOM Reds: SS Zach Cozart will likely be sidelined until Friday with a sore right wrist. "Hes going to need a couple of days of letting it be," Price said. Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy returned after missing Tuesdays game with back spasms. 1B Steve Pearce remained sidelined with an abdominal strain. UP NEXT Reds: RH Mike Leake (10-11) makes his first career appearance against the Orioles in the series finale Thursday night. Orioles: RH Chris Tillman (11-5) seeks his 17th consecutive start of allowing three earned runs or fewer. Hes got a 2.90 ERA at home. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '
11-01-2017, 02:17 AM
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