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Drake stood from his



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yyys123 Offline Junior Member **
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[color=#000000][size=medium][font=Microsoft YaHei]TORONTO - Drake stood from his courtside seat, his arms over his head motioning for the sellout crowd to get on their feet as the final buzzer sounded and his iconic anthem, "Started From The Bottom" blared over the Air Canada Centre loudspeakers. The Raptors global ambassador was the guest of honour on Saturday but - as he explained to the hoard of media that assembled in front of him before the game - he did not want the evening to be about him, although the night was in fact titled Drake Night. It could have been and very nearly turned out to be a sideshow. The Toronto-born recording artist handed out free shoes while his DJ entertained a captivated audience of 19,800 at halftime. Moments later the buzz that had filled the arena abruptly disappeared as the Raptors came out flat in the third quarter, trailing by as many as 10 to the division-rival Brooklyn Nets, winners of their previous five contests. In the end, Drake asked for noise and the ACC faithful obliged, saluting the team and its ambassador. The Raptors had earned it, putting on a show of their own and sending their fans home with more than just a black and gold OVO T-shirt. "I think we just got a spark there," coach Dwane Casey said after the Raptors closed out the game on a 40-18 run to defeat the Nets 96-80. "I thought our guys showed mental toughness and won a slug-out game, which I dont know if we could have won a couple months ago, no less last year. [Its] a testament to our guys mental growth and mental toughness to win a game like that." "We stayed patient," said DeMar DeRozan, who led all scorers with 26 to go along with seven rebounds and a team-high five assists. "We knew they were going to make a run, especially in the second half and we understood that. We stayed disciplined, understood we had to get stops, rebound the ball and push it." DeRozan scored the last seven points of the third and first two of the fourth as the Raptors began to take advantage of a veteran Nets team that had played a double overtime game against the defending champions a night earlier. Toronto held the visitors without a point for over seven minutes of game time and without a field goal for over nine minutes during a 22-1 run midway through the final frame. Despite their 41 per cent field goal shooting and just 16 assists, the Raptors were able to get out in transition - besting the Nets 13-6 on the break - and take advantage of Kevin Garnetts absence on the boards (the 37-year-old was rested on the second night of back-to-back). As a team the Raptors grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, five of them from Patrick Patterson, who continued to be a game-changer off Torontos bench. The Raptors outscored Brooklyn by 40 with Patterson on the floor Saturday. He finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds while fellow reserve John Salmons added 13, connecting on all five of his shots. The Nets and their rookie head coach Jason Kidd were struggling when they visited Toronto in late November, having lost five in a row before narrowly defeating the Raptors. This time around, they came to town riding a five-game winning streak, which included impressive victories over the Heat, Warriors and Thunder. Without Garnett, Deron Williams (nursing an ankle injury) and Brook Lopez (out for the season after foot surgery) in the lineup on the second night of a grueling back-to-back, Toronto seized another opportunity during this crucial stretch against sub-.500 teams. The Raptors have now won seven of their past nine contests overall and five of their last six at home, pulling within one-game of third place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference standings. With some assistance from Drake, the in-arena atmosphere reflected the teams recent success on Saturday and did not go unnoticed by those in the locker room. "I definitely think (Drake) succeeded," Amir Johnson said. "He got fans hyped, they had some sweet t-shirts in the crowd, everybodys screaming, every play everybody seemed like they were standing up cheering for us and thats what we need from our fans." "The atmosphere was great, I hope we can continue having that. Weve got to keep winning though." Accompanied by an entourage that included Tim Leiweke and Masai Ujiri before the game, Drake showed off his suit jacket, lined with a retro Vince Carter jersey. He also pitched in during the pre-game introductions, announcing the Raptors starters with his own unique twist. "Tonights not really about me, despite the title of the night," he said. "I think its just more about the momentum in the city, bringing the city together, how well these guys have been playing, honouring this squad that is really finding [itself], finding stability with each other and the revamp of this team." Given the result, its safe to say his mission was accomplished. Kurt Warner Jersey . You can watch the game on TSN at 7pm et/4pm pt and listen to the game on TSN Radio 690 in Montreal. After starting the month of November on an 0-3-1 slide, the Canadiens have recorded wins in three of their last five outings (3-1-1). Cheap Arizona Cardinals Jerseys China .com) - Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points with eight rebounds to lead the New York Knicks to a 92-80 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. http://www.cheaparizonacardinalsjerseysa...ler-jersey . The Mavericks avoided a season sweep by the Nuggets, who ran away with a win in Denver two weeks ago to hand Dallas its longest losing streak at three games. Dallas (42-28) got a boost in the playoff race when Miami rallied from seven down in the last 3 1/2 minutes to beat Memphis 91-86 Friday night. Andy Isabella Jersey . The Islanders own the fifth pick in the 2014 draft but had until June 1 to decide whether to keep it or defer to 2015. The selection was packaged in the teams deal for Thomas Vanek on October 27, 2013. Cheap Cardinals Jerseys Authentic . Hes just beginning to get similar results. The right-hander struggled after winning the honour in 2008 and 2009, but a retooling of his game has begun to pay off and has the San Francisco Giants thinking about the Lincecum of old.Worthy Champions On the final Saturday of the season, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini signed autographs and posed with fans for pictures. Less than 24 hours later, the Chilean was being thrown into the air by his jubilant players underneath him, the unlikeliest Premier League champion. A year ago to the day many of those players walked off the famous Wembley pitch as losers, to lowly Wigan in the FA Cup final. Many said then that manager Roberto Mancini should be given another year but no one in Manchester cares about the Italians whereabouts today. Citys title victory signaled their second in three years; the start, perhaps, of a dynasty in the Premier League but, in truth, their second one was very different to their first. This is a different kind of City. The noisy neighbors, as once dubbed by a rude, naïve Sir Alex Ferguson, beat United two years ago in the most narrow of circumstances, goal difference. That year City were abysmal for over three months on the field while allowing the petulant Carlos Tevez to stay in Argentina, the immature Mario Balotelli to continue to disobey team rules and the mouthpiece Mancini to comment far too aggressively on far too many topics. City were champions but didnt stand for what they felt they should stand for. Enter Chief Executive Ferran Soriano and Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain. For a year, much like they did at Barcelona under Frank Rijkaard before getting Pep Guardiola, they watched and took it all in. Last season City never looked like winning the title, falling behind by 12pts by the end of February and by 15pts at the end of March. They lacked width, had no real identity and creative players like Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri looked lost. Enter Pellegrini. City needed a manager who would never be bigger than the club, whose calmness and belief in his players would help the team on the pitch. His first test regularly came away from home. In September he shrugged his shoulders and shook his head in disbelief when his team lost at Aston Villa. Theyd played three away games and won none of them. By the fifth away game, at Chelsea, Citys latest setback was called a crisis by the media. The team was, supposedly, not a good side away from home but Pellegrini knew just how incorrect that statement was. Results are crucial, of course, but losses at Cardiff and Aston Villa should have been victories and City were outstanding in the second half at Stamford Bridge before Joe Hart lost his mind for a second and allowed Fernando Torres to score a late winner. Pellegrini kept his head and believed in his team. Quietly results started to match performances, yet it would be months before City would be top again. On the morning of April 21st, City woke up nine points back of Liverpool. In 21 days the season would be over and they had five leagues games remaining to Liverpools three. A win against West Brom that night started a run of five straight victories that culminated in a much-deserved title. It is easy to say City bought another trophy but this Premier League powerhouse is not at a level, yet, where they are easily unlikeable. Their style of play has to be admired, dictated by genuine world-class stars like David Silva, Yaya Toure and, when healthy, Sergio Aguero. Right now City is responsible for bringing such wonderful talents to the English game. It is clear their place at the top table of English football is here to stay but, so far, their inconsistencies have meant they havent always laid claim to the giant throne. Until now. Smart, shrewd leadership has made its way from the boardroom to the dugout and on to the pitch. Noisy neighbors? More like ruthless, quiet assassins led by a real gentleman in Pellegrini. Champions League Qualifiers Liverpools season had a cruel, unfortunate final act dubbed ‘the collapse by some but it is all too simple to say that without Steven Gerrards slip against Chelsea and the ‘Cyrstanbul 3-3 the Reds would have won the league. It was a year that Liverpool locked up talisman Luis Suarez and then spent the rest of the campaign showing him just why he should stay. Just quite what the striker decides to do next is anyones guess, after all he did turn his back on the club last summer after they had gone out of their way to support him in his darkest hours. Thankfully, for the club, Suarez, and the sport, once he returned from his suspension in September, dark days disappeared and the Uruguayan shone brighter than any other player in the league, on his way to matching Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer on 31 league goals. Chelseas year was, naturally, all about Jose Mourinho. He started the season proclaiming ‘this is a team of kids, it is not a team to win tomorrow and he spent the season proving himself right. He also remolded the side, making them much more difficult to break down, while selling on Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne, Tomorrow came and went for the Blues and next season, with presumably one very good new striker, they will be much stronger, not least in central midfield where the likes of Nemanja Matic, Ramires, Marco Van Ginkel, and possibly, Paulinho can take over games at a level that Eden Hazard and Willian did this year. Arsenal spent more days than any team at the top of the table but were out of the title hunt with two months to go. Again. The Gunners blew away many teams in the bottom half of the league, helping them race to 22pts through the first nine games. Arsene Wenger still kept his job despite three humiliating performances away from home at the teams above Arsenal and after allowing the club to go through the entire campaign with one legitimate striker. Of the 20 teams in the league this season, only Everton and Newcastle have spent (net) less than Arsenal in the past five years. Some feel the club continues to overachieve based on this but for a team that is supposed to be big, surely it is time for the club to find a man who puts pressure on rich owners to spend more money and take such a fantastic club to a position it deserves. Europa League Qualifiers Everton finished fifth under the magnificent Roberto Martinez after another entertaining season on the pitch and a tremendously smart campaign in the transfer market.ddddddddddddThe same could not be said for Tottenham who threw away the season the moment Andre Vilas Boas was sacked. This wonderful club, that has had so many flamboyant, skillful artists play for them lost its way this year and end the season without a real manager or identity. Hull City, under a calm Steve Bruce, were welcome arrivals to the league and never looked in danger of dropping down to the Championship. Their successful season was rewarded with a spot in the FA Cup final and although their league campaign took a turn for the worse late in the season they should be applauded for targeting Premier League caliber players who helped them stay up. The good, the bad and the ugly of mid-table Manchester United finally had the season all the detractors dreamed of. Their worst campaign for 25 years hit rock bottom in April when David Moyes was sacked. It was time, after far too many woeful performances, but at least he showed just how poor many of United players are. No matter which Scotsman was in charge at United, it was clear changes were needed and now it will be interesting to see what the Glazers do after being backed into a corner, one where piles of paper are stashed in a box labeled ‘bad contracts. Southampton finished a wonderful eighth place and brought a fresh, vibrant attacking style to the league. Many of those behind it were, surprisingly, English and the national team manager Roy Hodgson could do worse than send Mauricio Pocchetino a bottle of his favourite red wine for helping some of his players improve dramatically over the cause of a season. Stoke City moved on without Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes rescued his career as they finished a record high ninth, just ahead of Newcastle United who, unlike Stoke, had a tumultuous campaign. It is hard to take club chairman Mike Ashley seriously anymore. Many of his decisions form a moronic pattern. He didnt change the name of the stadium this season but the hiring of Joe Kinnear was a disgrace, as was the latters interview, soon after, on national radio where he mispronounced many of the players at his team. It was like a scene from a comedy show. The episode continued for the Magpies as they spent no money on players, sold their best player in the final week of the window, didnt replace him, let go of Kinnear, watched their manager head-butt an opposing player and then saw the team fall to pieces, claiming just 16pts from their last 19. As the season ended, this proud, historic club, supported by brilliant football fans, who deserve far more, was in the gutter. For Ashley, of course, it was a successful season as they made lots of money and finished mid-table. Many clubs would have swapped with Newcastle but, in truth, all ten teams in the bottom half of the league were below average.Crystal Palace were the best of the rest, a remarkable climb from the mess Ian Holloway had left them in. when they had just three points at the end of October.  “We didnt keep the same spirit, with some of the new lads coming in, some of their attitudes I am finding very annoying. Someone else can come in and make that right,” said Holloway as he resigned. Pulis came in and did exactly that. The Relegation Battle The race to mediocrity and the prize of safety that came with it was long, exhausting and very frustrating for many other teams who battled with their own identities. Swansea let go of Michael Laudrup and appointed Garry Monk to get back to the way Huw Jenkins demanded, Sam Allardyce bored his own fans towards safety with a brand of football they disliked. While outsiders told them to be thankful for survival, the intelligent fans, paying good money to watch their beloved Hammers, hit back with hours upon hours of evidence in their favor. Sunderland performed a miracle, winning four in a row in late April and early May after losing five in a row in late March and early April. Aston Villa, one of just three teams in the bottom ten who didnt change their manager, actually went backwards after a dreadful season that was even worse than last year. This once big club has paid a heavy price for previous managers spending money freely and is fortunate to still be in the top flight after three woeful campaigns in a row. Spare a thought for their home fans, whove now watched just 15 wins from their last 57 home games during that stretch. West Brom fans knew too well just how bad ‘the Villa were but had an even worse season, finishing just one spot off the bottom three after finishing eighth just one year ago. The sacking of Steve Clarke in December seemed premature and his just over one point per game ratio wasnt bettered by his successor, Pepe Mel, who took over a team in 16th and finished 17th. Down into the Championship went Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff. All had very different stories of woe. Cardiff, forced to play in the wrong colour all season, were in shambles under owner Vincent Tan, Fulham copied the QPR model for signing too many players and having no identity while Norwich, quite simply, couldnt score goals. No one wants to see their team relegated but, quietly, some Norwich fans will surely be excited at the prospect of playing at a level next season that they will be able to cope with, where they can express themselves and remove the brake that seemed to stunt their progress during their three-year existence in the Premier League. The sport is, after all, in the entertainment business. No matter which side you supported the 2013/14 Premier League certainly did bring entertainment. In the end it came down to a battle between two clubs who scored over 100 goals! In a sport that can be often over regulated, shackled by tactical systems and ‘parked buses, two North West teams exploded with wonderful precision making the hardest thing in the game look easy, time and time again. Kevin Keegans Newcastle was once the reference point for an attacking team in the historical world of the Premier League. 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