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I feel for them
So, yeah, I know how it feels on their side. The Mavs? Well, that was just their sixth loss in 30 games to begin the season. Dont worry about them, though. They would be just fine. They went on to win the championship that year, with Dwane Casey behind the bench as an assistant coach. Despite a misleading final score, this Raptors team narrowly escaped what would have been a similarly embarrassing defeat. Down in numbers and in star power, the Oklahoma City Thunder - or whatever was left of them - came in with eight active bodies, also playing in the second night of a back-to-back. They left with seven, and that might be generous. Still, for roughly three quarters of what both sides called an ugly affair, they had Toronto running in quicksand. Thats not going to get it done, said Casey following a shaky defensive effort in his teams 100-88 victory. Ive told them until my eyes turn red. Theyve had that speech a lot and until it sinks in, its going to be a roller coaster. Until we decide collectively to do it, its going to be the same old song over and over again. Coming off their first defeat of the campaign, Caseys club vowed to get off to a quicker start against a hurting, albeit scrappy opponent. Instead, the Thunder hit eight of their nine attempts and shot 71 per cent in a 30-point first quarter. It wasnt until late in the third, early in the fourth quarter that the home team turned up the heat, or - just as likely - Oklahoma City ran out of gas. Any positives to take from the night? No, I dont think so, Kyle Lowry responded. A win, said DeRozan, his teams leading scorer with 16. Thats about it. A win. Honestly. They hit a lot of open shots. We let them shoot a high percentage in the first half and we had to fight back and get in. Weve just got to learn from it. We cant keep digging ourselves a hole and expect to fight back and everything to fall in our hands. So thats one thing we definitely have to take from it. It was the second straight game in which the Raptors gave up 30 or more points in the opening frame, doing so in a losing effort to the Heat on Sunday. Toronto needed a 27-18 fourth-quarter run to put the game away. It should have been easier. It should be [that] you want to play, Casey said. You want to run em, keep the tempo up, not let a zone they put in last week slow you down and go in and attack and play and have fun. The Thunder, now 1-4 on the year, were missing half their team comingg in, most notably the NBAs reigning MVP Kevin Durant (right foot Jones fracture) and All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook (metacarpal fracture on right hand), both out for the foreseeable future. Air Max 90 Australia Sale. Early in the third quarter they lost leading scorer Perry Jones to a knee injury, lowering their count of warm bodies to seven. Moments later starting point guard Reggie Jackson took himself out of the game with what appeared to be a leg ailment - he was also favouring his right hand earlier in the game. Although Jackson would return, Sebastian Telfair took his place on the bench after getting ejected for a flagrant foul in the fourth. Serge Ibaka, 11-for-14 with 25 points on the night, played most of the final quarter with five fouls. The injury bug found Toronto too. Must be contagious. Jonas Valanciunas was taken to the locker room late in the first half after Telfair inadvertently hit him in the nose. It was the centres second visit of the night - he had X-rays on a banged up right hand earlier. Already missing Amir Johnson, out for the second straight game with a sore left ankle, the Raptors had to navigate through the second half without either of their starting bigs. You find a way to win, thats the bottom line, said Casey, who warned against the undermanned Thunder after morning shoot-around. Those are the most dangerous games. You look back in March and April and say, how did we drop that one? You have to take care of those games. OKC has been dealt a bad hand to begin the campaign. The bigger they are, they harder they fall. The Thunder have been at the top of the NBA for so long its reasonable to forget that they - like the Raptors, or any team for that matter - started from nothing. Since going 23-59 (.280) in 2008-09, their first season in Oklahoma City, they own a record of 271-123 (.688), qualifying for the Western Conference Semifinals in four of five years, Conference Finals in three. In that time, the remarkably durable Durant missed just six games. Up until last season, Russell Westbrook had a perfect attendance record. As a team, they lost just 29 man-games to injury in 2012-13, their 60-win campaign. By Tuesday night, they had already lost 32 in just five contests to begin the new season. And that number should balloon in a hurry. There are a lot of challenges when you only have eight players but its a challenge we have embraced, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before the game. There are no other options. You either step up to the challenge or go home and we have always had a mentality that you compete for one another, make no excuses while youre doing it. Its not the ideal situation but its the situation we are in right now. I feel for them, but thats part of the NBA, said Casey. Next man up. Its just like us with Amir [Johnson]. Next man up. Its an opportunity. You hate to see a teammate go down but its an opportunity for the next guy to step in and play. Injuries are part of the NBA. Injuries like they have are unusual but thats why you have that many players. Johnson will not make the trip to Boston, thus missing Wednesdays game, his third straight. Scans on Valanciunas nose came back clean. Hell accompany the team and is considered questionable against the Celtics. ' ' '

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