TORONTO - With just over seven seconds left on the clock and Fridays game hanging in the balance, a sellout Air Canada Centre crowd rose to their feet, holding their breath in anticipation. Theyve been holding their breath for six years now, but finally they can exhale. As Celtics forward Jared Sullinger forced up a wild, off-balance runner, the building erupted. It was official. The Raptors are heading back to the post-season. "We made it," shouted Amir Johnson repeatedly as the media filtered into Torontos locker room. "Its a satisfying, kind of overwhelming feeling," he described, following his teams 105-103 victory over Boston, officially snapping the Raptor five-year playoff drought. "Its been six years since this team, this organization made it to the playoffs. This team has worked so hard. We deserved it. Weve been playing our butts off, playing through injuries. Weve had our ups and downs." "Weve made it." Not lost on the team was the fact that they stole a game, their 41st victory of the season, that probably shouldnt have come down to the final possession. Down by four with under three minutes to play, it looked like the Raptors would have to hope for a New York Knicks loss later in the evening or wait until Sunday to punch their ticket to the playoffs. Theyve been resilient all year, so why wouldnt they be now? First DeMar DeRozan drained a fadeaway jumper, then Johnson hit the game-winning put-back layup. "It was fitting," Dwane Casey said. DeRozan and Johnson, the teams longest tenured players, were responsible for Torontos final four points. For them, this moment was a little sweeter. "It means a lot, honestly, man," said DeRozan, the Raptors fifth-year guard, who will make his post-season debut next month. "Especially for me and Amir and what weve been through here with the tough seasons, through the ups and downs and the struggles. We stuck with it." The only player in the building that could give a firsthand account of the Raptors last playoff experience - a five-game, first round defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic in 2007-08 - was Celtics forward Kris Humphries. Only four other players from that team are currently on an NBA roster, but DeRozan and Johnson – who arrived the year after – have both been in Toronto long enough to appreciate what a night like this means to the franchise, the city and the Raptors long-suffering fan base. "It was all worth it," said DeRozan. "These fans stuck behind us every single day and theyre going to continue to do so. Thats the reason why we work extremely hard. Our fans definitely push us." Of course, it was just a formality. It was inevitable, only a matter of time. Toronto wasnt going to go winless in its remaining games, just like the Knicks were not going to run the table the rest of the way. Still, they have refused to count their chickens before they hatched and for that you can credit the humility and focus of their head coach. Moments after the win, a loud chorus of applause could be heard from outside the teams locker room. Finally, they could celebrate, albeit behind closed doors. Even Casey, who wouldnt pat himself on the back and likely never will, found a way to indulge in what the evening represented. "Were excited about it," he admitted. "My hat is off to all the guys whove come through here," said Casey, crediting MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum as well as former general manager Bryan Colangelo for their contributions to the process. "To DeMar DeRozan [and] Amir Johnson, who have been through it all and for the fans, the fans for understanding and being patient. I know they didnt see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but its a process. You dont build Rome overnight in this league. Is very difficult to do. You talk about rebuilding, its a hard gig." The Raptors have surpassed every rational expectation, going 35-19 since the trade of Rudy Gay in early December. Its been a season of firsts for a franchise on the cusp of its 20th birthday, a franchise many pundits wrote off for dead after selling off its highest-paid player. "Everybody who writes something on a piece of paper isnt always right, thats how I look at it," said DeRozan, the first-time All-Star. Hes right. He and his team have proven a lot of people wrong. As the Celtics made their run, cutting their deficit - once 14 - down and ultimately taking the lead, DeRozan came through yet again. With Kyle Lowry slowed by an ankle injury he sustained in the first half, DeRozan picked him up and scored 24 of his game-high 30 points in the final 24 minutes. 16 of his 27 career 30-point games have come this season. With 10 games remaining and their spot in the pos-tseason locked up, the team can shift its attention to seeding but most importantly, going into the playoffs healthy and with momentum. "We cant be satisfied," Casey repeated, with his team moving into soul possession of the third seed following the Chicago Bulls loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. "We still want to continue on and weve still got to get better." Lowrys injury scare With three minutes to go in the second quarter, Lowry limped to the locker room after turning his right ankle while back-pedaling to get back on defence. After being examined by the medical staff, the Raptor point guard and most important player was able to return, starting the second half with his ankle taped up. As per usual, Lowry shrugged off whatever pain he was in after the win. "Im a little sore, but Im fine," he said after scoring nine points in 33 minutes. "Im okay. Good to go." Revenge of the second unit Naturally, Casey was frustrated with his under-performing bench after they were outscored 51-7 in Boston on Wednesday. "I challenged them before the game," said the Raptors coach. "I got on them about their productivity or lack thereof in the Boston game. I challenged them. I said, Look, guys want playing time, when the opportunity comes, youve got to do something, whether its defence, knocking somebody down, taking a charge, whatever. And they came through." Greivis Vasquez, who scored all seven of the benchs points on Wednesday, led the teams reserves with 15, but Chuck Hayes and John Salmons were also productive on both ends of the floor. Combined, the three former Kings - along with Tyler Hansbrough, who logged five minutes - totalled 28 points on the night. Patterson nearing a return Although he missed his 12th straight game, Patrick Patterson has been making progress and appears to be on the verge of returning from his right elbow injury. Although the Raptors havent had much practice time to get Patterson back up to speed - a concern Casey expressed before Fridays game - the Raptors forward has been able to participate in smaller, three-on-three scrimmages since being cleared for contact earlier this week. "[His] conditioning is probably going to be step behind a little bit," Casey acknowledged. "Its not going to be where he was before stepping away, so thats going to be expected. Thats why now we need to kind of get him back in rhythm and with the lack of practice time its going to have to be in a game situation." Patterson could be back in uniform this weekend in Florida, as the Raptors begin a back-to-back set with the Magic on Sunday before visiting the Heat Monday evening. The stat With their 41st win of the season, the Raptors secured a .500 record for the sixth time in franchise history and first since 2007-08, the last year they qualified for the playoffs. The quote "My grandmother called," Johnson told the media after his team clinched a spot in the playoffs. "She said that she was proud." Dominik Hasek Jersey
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. With the suspension, Nigeria is unable to take part in any kind of international fixtures. FIFA had issued a warning to the NFF last week after the federation was served with court proceedings from the government that prevented the NFFs president from running the NFFs day-to-day affairs. BALTIMORE -- A frustrating night for Albert Pujols had a delightful ending. Pujols hit an RBI single in the 13th inning, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles 1-0 Thursday to avert a three-game sweep. Pujols grounded into double plays in each of his first two at-bats. In the 11th, the 34-year-old slugger hit a scorcher down the third-base line that Manny Machado snared in the top of the webbing before throwing to first from foul ground to beat Pujols by a step. Then came the 13th. Kole Calhoun drew a leadoff walk from Ryan Webb (3-2) and Mike Trout singled before Pujols singled through the drawn-in infield. "Albert hit the ball hard every time up except one popup but had nothing really to show for it until he lined that single to centre," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Thats what Albert is about. He keeps playing. Machado is a magician out there, took a couple of hits away from him." Hector Santiago (3-7) pitched two shutout innings and Huston Street got three outs for his fourth save since joining the Angels on July 18. Appropriately, the game ended when Adam Jones hit a popup to Pujols at first base. After making the catch, he smiled, flipped the ball to teammate Howie Kendrick and looked toward the heavens. Tyler Skaggs and six relievers combined on a five-hitter, and David Freese matched a career high with four hits to help Los Angeles improve to 3-10 in one-run games on the road. Skaggs had a no-hitter with two outs in the fifth inning before leaving with left forearm tightness. He was replaced by Mike Morin, who immediately gave up a bloop single to Caleb Joseph. The Orioles didnt get another hit until Joseph singled leading off the eighth. Each of Baltimores last six games has been decided by one run, four of them in extra innings. The Orioles fell to 12-4 in extra innings. "All our pitchers I thought pitched pretty well," manager Buck Showalter said. "Unfortunately, they did, too. Theyve got an outsttanding bullpen and our guys matched them for the most part.dddddddddddd" Baltimore starter Bud Norris scattered eight hits over seven innings, striking out four and walking one. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 0.43 ERA in six career starts against Los Angeles. The Angels loaded the bases in the third before Pujols grounded into a double play for the second time. He made up for it later. Despite the loss, the AL East-leading Orioles won the season series 4-2. All six games were decided by two runs or fewer. Skaggs walked the first batter he faced, and then retired 14 straight before walking Steve Pearce in the fifth. The lefty threw one more pitch before leaving. "Its always a concern whenever your arms sore and cant feel your fingers," Skaggs said. "I felt it was one of the better games I felt all year. Its frustrating." TRAINERS ROOM Angels: Left-hander C.J. Wilson, who has been sidelined since July 10 with a sprained right ankle, is expected to return Saturday to start at Tampa Bay. Orioles: First baseman Chris Davis (stomach virus) missed a third straight start but entered as the designated hitter in the ninth. He struck out and walked. Left-hander T.J. McFarland returned from bereavement leave and righty Preston Guilmet was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. ON DECK Angels: Matt Shoemaker, who went 3-1 in July, seeks to extend that run into a new month Friday night in the opener of a three-game series in Tampa Bay. Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen (11-3) faces the Mariners, who send Roenis Elias (8-8) to the mound Friday night to start a three-game series. Baltimore took three of four from Seattle last week. REPLAY ROBBERY After Jones was picked off first base in the 11th, the Orioles called for a replay. The call stood up. "Safe. He never tagged him," Showalter said. "I dont know what theyre looking at. I think we lead the league in stands. A paranoid man would worry more about it, an alert man would wonder about it. I do." Cheap Chargers Jerseys Cheap Rams Jersey Cheap Dolphins Jerseys Cheap Vikings Jerseys Cheap Patriots Jersey Cheap Saints Jerseys Cheap New York Giants Jerseys Cheap Jets Jerseys Cheap Raiders Jerseys Cheap Eagles Jerseys Cheap Steelers Jerseys Cheap 49ers Jerseys Cheap Seahawks Jerseys Cheap Buccaneers Jerseys Cheap Titans Jerseys Cheap Redskins Jerseys
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