TORONTO - For the first time in three days, the most turbulent 72 hours of his life, Jonas Valanciunas was able to find an escape, an outlet for his ranging emotions. "Its been a rough couple days," the Raptors centre admitted following Wednesdays game, speaking with the media for the first time since he was arrested for drunk driving earlier this week. He was unable to address the incident directly, as he has yet to meet with his lawyers. "I found the power, found the energy to come out [and] fight," he continued. "I felt really good [because of the] fan support, thank you to them. That felt great, because everybody supported me. I say sorry and [am] learning. Ill be better." Valanciunas wasnt sure how he would be received by the teams fans, feeling he had disappointed them, just as they did not know what to expect from him, returning to the court in the aftermath of Monday mornings events. "Honestly, he was going to play like trash or he was going to play amazing," said Kyle Lowry after Torontos 125-114 win over the 76ers. "He played amazing, like we expected." The 21-year-old sophomore would go on to score a career-best 26 points to go along with 12 rebounds, hitting 10 of his 14 shots in 37 minutes of action. Once the ball was thrown up, and for the two and a half hours that followed, the only thing that was on his mind was the task at hand. "Its a tough situation for him to handle, to be going through," Lowry added, "but this is our sanctuary: basketball. We get a chance to be away from everything. Basketball is like our space, our secret spot and thats where guys can release a lot of energy and intensity." Scoring the first four points of the game, Valanciunas came out with a fire, a purpose and an air of confidence. He has been playing some of the best basketball of his career and those off-court distractions could not derail him. Leading the team with 23 double-doubles after recording just eight a year ago, Valanciunas has played 30 or more minutes and scored in double figures in eight straight games, matching a season-high. The biggest difference has been his comfort level and self-assurance, according to his teammates. The game has slowed down for him, hes playing with patience and most importantly hes not getting down on himself. "[Hes] much more aggressive, much hungrier," said Lowry. "He wants the ball. Tonight he was literally yelling at me to give him the ball." "He came up big," DeMar DeRozan stated. "That just shows you hes not letting everything else affect him, everything thats going on or the situation that happened. Hes just going out and playing. He did what he did, its over with, he apologized to us and he understands whats at stake and that we need him." His big night couldnt have come at a better time. Valanciunas has some work to do. He knows this. On top of learning from his error in judgment, hell have to win back the fans he let down. Wednesdays performance was the first step in turning the page. Lowrys return Although Lowry eased into his return from a three-game absence, sidelined with a bruised left kneecap, he more than made his presence felt when his team needed him most. The Raptors starting point guard recorded four assists before attempting his first shot late in the opening quarter. By the second half he was up to his old tricks. Lowry scored 19 of his game-high 29 points in the final 24 minutes, including 10 in the fourth quarter. "I was happy to be back there with my teammates, to be honest," he said after the game. "When you miss games you feel like youre letting your team down but it was great to be back out there with the fellas." Prior to the game, Dwane Casey indicated there would be no restriction on Lowrys usage and sure enough he played the entire first quarter and logged 38 minutes on the night. "[The week off] definitely helped my body rest but a week doesnt do anything," Lowry said. "Its going to take two months for me to actually be normally healthy again." Amir Johnson got another precautionary night off, missing his third straight contest with a lingering right ankle injury, though he could have played if necessary and shouldnt be out much longer. Nearing division title With Torontos victory and the Nets loss in Orlando, the Raptors are now one win - or Brooklyn defeat - away from clinching their second division title in franchise history. They can wrap up the Atlantic crown while also matching a franchise-record 47th win of the season in front of their home crowd on Friday when they host the Knicks. The stat The Raptors are a perfect 10-0 in games without at least one of their five starters (Lowry, DeRozan, Johnson, Valanciunas or Terrence Ross) this season. The quote "Our guys see the computers, they see the standings and the records but we cant play that way," Casey said of the teams defensive slippage, after allowing the lowly 76ers to score 114 points on 52 per cent shooting. "I just told them that weve got to pick our defence up and not have the mental letdowns that were having defensively. Its nothing that we havent seen before or any new trick plays. Its just one-on-one defence, blow-bys, our feet in the sand. There is a slippage." Cheap Nike Vapormax Run Utility
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. I kept my eyes focused up on the camera during each approach. I just tried to stay focused on my form, as I didnt know what the ball reaction was. I was quite emotional at the end. I did not actually see any of the shots in the game until I got home and watched the video.SOCHI – Slow and messy starts seem to be par for the course for the Canadian mens Olympic hockey team. Even though, the 2014 edition enjoyed three days of practice and four skates, in total, before the opener, Sidney Crosby and Co. were not sharp in their 3-1 win against Norway at the Bolshoy Ice Palace on Thursday. There was little authority from Canada. There were some nerves. But slow starts have been the case in the past three Winter Games, when Canada usually had only a day or two of on-ice sessions before the game-action began. Norway deserves credit for its determined game and defensive zone coverage. But even though the Canadians outshot their opponents 38-20, their power play (0-for-2) was abysmal and their scoring touch around Norwegian goalie Lars Haugen was missing in action. Canadian head coach Mike Babcock revealed afterwards that his club mustered only 24 scoring chances. Canada pulled out the victory because the fourth lline of Jamie Benn, John Tavares and Patrice Bergeron came to play, despite limited ice time, and the defence played an active and effective game offensively.dddddddddddd At best-on-best tournaments like the Olympics, Canadian players remark time and time again that they want to get better as the tournament goes on. Sometimes they overcome slow starts, like in 2002 and 2010. Sometimes they dont, like in 2006. But a common theme has been a slow start in the preliminary rounds. 2002 L 5-2 SwedenW 3-2 GermanyT 3-3 Czech Republic 2006 W 7-2 ItalyW 5-1 GermanyL 2-0 Switzerland 2010 W 8-0 NorwayW 3-2 Switzerland (shootout)L 5-3 United States Canadian Olympic teams struggle to come together quickly. It doesnt matter if its the bigger international-sized ice surface or the smaller NHL rink. One of the reasons is because they are asked to take on different roles and reduced ice time. Not every one can make the adjustment seamlessly. ' ' '