The Brazilian heads into Saturday afternoons

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TORONTO - By the end of Thursdays three hour-and 32-minute, triple-overtime marathon, the longest game in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors had run out
of gas while nearly running out of active bodies.
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. Two of the Raptors starters, along with their
sixth man, had fouled out after gutting out a couple of extra periods playing
hurt. One starter was absent, having left for the locker room earlier in the
game with an injury and another was mired in one of the worst games in his
professional career. "I feel like if we would have had everybody in the game, we
probably would have come up with the win," said Amir Johnson, who - playing on a
couple of sore ankles - picked up his sixth foul late in the first overtime, as
his team went on to fall 132-129 to the Washington Wizards at home.
Patrick Patterson was whistled for his sixth minutes earlier, while Kyle Lowry -
hobbling on an ankle he tweaked going in for a potential game-winning drive at
the end of regulation - fouled out two minutes before the night came to a
merciful end. Terrence Ross, who scored a team-high 11 points in the first half,
did not return for the second after he, too, suffered an ankle injury. As a
team, the Raptors, until very late in the fourth, were outworked in a game that
seemed to mean more to the visiting Wizards, losers of three straight to Toronto
this season, than it did to the home team. Overall, Washington grabbed 18
offensive rebounds, registered 80 points in the paint, bested the Raptors 21-6
in second-chance points and held a 10-point edge in fast break scoring. Still,
the Raptors were right there with a chance to steal a victory they probably
didnt deserve at the end of regulation and as the clock expired to close the
first OT period. "I like the way we battled," said coach Dwane Casey, "even
through the foul trouble and also with injuries." "Coach told us before the game
its going to be a playoff-atmosphere game," said DeMar DeRozan, the lone starter
on the floor when the Wizards finally began to pull away in the third OT. "Thats
what it was. We fought to the end, we just couldnt get no stops in overtime."
DeRozan led the Raptors with 34 points in 57 minutes. Lowry logged 54 minutes,
13 in extra time, despite coming down awkwardly on his ankle after just missing
the go-ahead layup ahead of the fourth-quarter buzzer. Again, the ball was in
the hands of the Raptors point guard in a similar situation five minutes later
when the trailing John Wall blocked his runner in the lane. "He stayed in the
game, but he turned his ankle real bad on that play," Casey said. "I thought
Kyle still battled on defence and I thought he was huge for us." How was his
ankle feeling after the game? "Its great," Lowry said with a smirk on his face,
withholding - not surprisingly - any pain from the hoard of media. "A game like
this, the bumps and bruises hurt a little bit more," said Johnson, who had 16
points and nine rebounds in 42 minutes, "especially when you come up short and
there were so many times we could have ended the game and won the game. It was a
tough loss." “We wanted to win the game," Lowry added after just missing out on
a triple-double with 18 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. "At the end of the
day, we go out there and try to win every single night. We dont try to just go
out there and compete and say, ‘Oh, we gave it our best shot. We go out there
and try to win every single game." Three-point shooting kept Toronto in striking
distance as the Raptors knocked down 12 of their 30 attempts from long range,
including four from Greivis Vasquez, who stepped up in Rosss stead. Vasquez
recorded a season-high 26 points to go along with eight assists in 38 minutes
off the bench, his most productive game since coming over in the December trade
from Sacramento. With the win, the fifth-place Wizards avoided the season-series
sweep with Toronto and pulled within two games of the Raptors for the third seed
in the East. Although it was a long night for everyone involved - Casey ended up
using all 13 players available to him - it couldnt have ended soon enough for
Jonas Valanciunas, who had a game to forget. Once Patterson and Johnson fouled
out in OT, Casey reluctantly went back to Valanciunas, though he had been
sitting on the bench since late in the third quarter. Understandably, the
21-year-old was out of rhythm and lacking in the confidence department. It
showed. The sophomore had difficulty keeping up with Marcin Gortat - who scored
a career-best 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, seven of them offensive - and
negated one of his own teams buckets on an offensive goaltending call. Casey
rotated in the likes of Tyler Hansbrough and Chuck Hayes, Steve Novak and
Landry Fields - the three had not played more than a few seconds until OT - when
it became apparent the Raptors starting centre was causing more harm than good.
Although Casey wouldnt point the finger at the young seven-footer, given the
length of time he spent on the bench before re-entering, "it wasnt fair to
Jonas," he said, Valanciunas was far more critical of himself after the loss. "I
feel really sad," he said with his head down. "Weve got to learn from [our]
mistakes. I feel really bad right now. I could do a much better job than what I
did. Im going to watch the film, learn from it to not repeat it next game."
Luckily, the Raptors will have a couple of days off to rest, recuperate and
regroup before hosting the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, their only game in
the next seven days. "We just go over the mistakes we made on film [and] clean
them up," Johnson said. "It just makes you realize how much talent we have on
this team, what we can do." "[Were] going to go over film, rest our bodies [and]
come back strong."
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. -- Michael Bennett gambled last off-season that
playing on a one-year deal in Seattle would pay off in the future with the
long-term contract he always wanted.
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. Green-Ellis was Cincinnatis leading rusher each
of the last two seasons. His role was reduced last year when Giovani Bernard was
added to the backfield. Green-Ellis ran for 756 yards and a career-low 3.
. The Brazilian heads into Saturday afternoons race coming off a close runner-up
finish to Ryan Hunter-Reay in the Indianapolis 500.Watford boss Quique Sanchez
Flores insists he has no issue with speculation regarding his future at Vicarage
Road. A 2-0 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday means the Hornets have won just twice
in 10 Premier League matches since securing their top-flight status.And despite
guiding the promoted side to an FA Cup semi-final, reports suggest that Flores
could well be dismissed at the end of the campaign. The rumours are normal. You
need to learn to live with these kind of things, Flores said.Sometimes life is
ridiculous but it is out of my control. I am not afraid of anything. It is not
time to talk about me, it is time to talk about the match.It is important to be
a realist and try to enjoy the moment we are living with Watford. Sometimes I
could be sad about the people around me who are not enjoying this experience but
not for me. Troy Deeney (left) scores in Watfords last win - a 3-2 victory over
Aston Villa I understand life is very hard, football is very hard and is
normally more bad situations than good situations, he added.
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. When you get promotion it is usual to live with
pressure but we have avoided that - if people are not able to enjoy this I am
sad for that. I am completely happy. I want to enjoy the last month of the
competition. Also See: Reds sting Hornets Flores: Mistakes cost us Watford
fixtures Live on Sky Cheap
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Posted 21 Apr 2017

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