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BeitragVerfasst: 13.01.2018, 09:07 

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TORONTO - Even before the Hawks painted their latest masterpiece on the canvas that has become the slumping Toronto Raptors, Dwane Casey couldnt help but fawn over the NBAs hottest team. Although the Raptors head coach immediately shot down an implication of jealousy, could you blame him if he was a bit envious of Fridays opponent? 14 Eastern Conference coaches should be. Oh, its impressive, Casey admitted ahead of his teams 110-89 loss to the Hawks, Atlantas 25th win over its last 27 games. Somebody asked me yesterday, was I envious? But Im not envious, Im impressed more than envious. Weve shown times where weve moved the ball early in the season and got the ball humming and moving, he continued. Weve shown stretches of that. The Raptors were the Easts best team for a franchise-best 60 straight days before Atlanta dethroned them on the second night of the new calendar year. While the Hawks have been on a tear through the league, defeating some of the NBAs best teams in impressive fashion, Toronto continues to trend in the opposite direction with no easily apparent or quick fix in sight. That was not us, Casey said after they allowed the Hawks to shoot 61 per cent in a game that matched their most lopsided defeat of the season. We didnt come out and put our best game on the court. Its not one person. Were still in that rut and the only way were going to get out of it is to work our way out of it. Casey would not diminish his teams effort and overall compete level, but knows that whatever it is the Hawks are playing with right now - what the Raptors had to begin the season - escapes them at the moment. For the second time this week, they held a closed-door, post-game meeting, the content of which theyre keeping to themselves, rightfully so. With limited practice time and mid-season fatigue beginning to wear on them, the challenge could be a mental one more than anything else. Theyve lost six of eight after racing out to an impressive 24-7 start. How do they find themselves again? We had a long talk, James Johnson said. Its going to stay internal, but we just got a little over-confident and we started taking to heart that were a good team [but] we havent accomplished nothing yet. As long as we get back to that, were still in a good place. Were still third [in the conference], first in our division, but it can go south right away and we dont want that. Toronto has accounted for a quarter of Atlantas eight losses on the season, both coming early in the campaign. Now, the division between the two clubs is significant. Casey often likens these Hawks to the multidimensional Spurs teams of the last couple decades - a natural comparison given that their coach, Mike Budenholzer, spent 17 years working as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. There are a couple obvious similarities in the way they spread the floor and move the ball but theyre also looking an awful lot like the Golden State Warriors team that also handed Toronto a 21-point loss earlier this month. All 10 players that logged meaningful minutes for the Hawks on Friday can shoot the ball. Most of them can pass and do so at a frenetic pace that had the Raptors defence running around aimlessly all night. Theyre a different team, Kyle Lowry said. More confident, learning their system even more. Their shooting is unbelievable right now. Theyre playing together. They got all their guys and theyre moving the ball extremely well, added DeMar DeRozan, who led Toronto with 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting in his second game back from injury - he and Johnson were the teams lone bright spots on the night. Theyre playing at a high level and you have to give them credit. Atlanta recorded 30 assists on 42 made field goals, hitting 12 of their 23 attempts from long distance and scoring 24 points off Torontos 19 turnovers - another alarmingly high total for a team that has dropped off considerably in that category. The Raptors have thrown the ball away 120 times over the past seven games after committing almost half the amount of turnovers (63) in the previous seven. You should be frustrated if youre getting your butts kicked, Casey said. Were all frustrated and you should be. If youre a competitor you should be frustrated, but theres no frustrating in pointing fingers, its everybody. On Friday, they were overmatched against a very good team that played nearly flawless basketball - an excusable loss in and of itself. But that storyline is sounding all too familiar. While the Hawks have been victorious in 11 of their last 12 contests against teams at or above the .500 mark, Toronto has dropped eight of nine to winning competition. Though the Hawks are beginning to separate themselves in the conference - now five games up on second-place Washington, five and a half ahead of Toronto - the East is still very much up for grabs. The Raptors may not be the team that many hoped they could be after that hot start to the season, but theyre right to believe they are better than this. At some point, if they are to contend in the conference and take another step as an organization, they have to start hitting back against the leagues heavy weights. They have to find themselves again. You can go right through the roster, said Casey. Coaches, players, say you can do this better, we can do this better. Thats what weve got to do, because weve done it. We did it at a high level for a couple of months. Weve just got to get that mojo back and get that two-by-four off our shoulder. Were still in a good place, but weve got to fight through this and grind through this tough spot right now. Jay Bruce Jersey . "Weve given ourselves now a tougher task," said Carlyle after the Friday practice, the Toronto head coach notably chipper and upbeat throughout. "But the bottom line is we just have to win our share of games [and] not worry about what anybody else is doing. Michael Brantley Jersey . Hicham Khalouas late goal improved Almerias chances of avoiding relegation in a match dominated by contentious calls, including three penalties. One day after Barcelonas 4-3 win at Real Madrid featured three penalties, referees again dominated a wide-open game that saw Almeria ultimately move out of the relegation zone and one point ahead of Getafe which took its place. ... ns-jersey/. Simona Halep of Romania claimed the fifth title of her career by beating Samantha Stosur of Australia 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the womens final. After trading sets, Gasquet trailed 4-3 in the decider but broke back to 4-4 in a game that went to seven deuces with Kukushkin constantly failing on his forehand shots. Lonnie Chisenhall Jersey . - Bryan Price sat down in the cushy chair. Satchel Paige Jersey . Louis against the Blues. The Canucks picked up their second straight victory in the swings opener on Tuesday in Calgary before getting routed in Minnesota last night, 5-1.HALIFAX -- The Moncton Wildcats spoiled the Halifax Mooseheads party. Cody Drover scored twice and Alex Dubeau made 28 saves Thursday as Moncton shut out Halifax 4-0 in first game of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season. Prior to the opening faceoff, the Mooseheads raised banners to honour last seasons QMJHL championship and Memorial Cup title. But Halifax has a much different look this season, with forwards Nathan MacKinnon, who was taken first overall at the NHL draft by the Colorado Avalanche, and Jonatthan Drouin, the No.dddddddddddd 3 pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning, expected to stick with their NHL clubs. Also missing is Zachary Fucale, last seasons starting goalie, who is attending the Montreal Canadiens training camp after being selected in the second round. Ivan Barbashev added a goal and an assist for Moncton, while Ryan Penny also scored. Kevin Darveau made 29 saves in the loss for Halifax. The Wildcats finished the night 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Mooseheads wound up 0-for-6. 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