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The teams play again Friday night at Detroi

TORONTO - With his teammates primed to go their separate ways after Wednesdays game, many of them playing like it in the first half, DeMar DeRozan took one final opportunity to validate his upcoming trip to New Orleans. Nike Air Max Thea Hvid Dame . For the better part of the opening 24 minutes, the Raptors played like a team that was ready to start its long weekend one day early by succumbing to a popular pre All-Star break pitfall; the letdown game. "I think both teams were on vacation before the game started," Dwane Casey said of his teams flat start, hitting just one of 12 field goals at the outset of a crucial meeting with the Hawks and trailing by eight early, until DeRozan sparked the Raptors slumbering offence. Were the Raptors looking ahead to some much needed time off? "I wouldnt say that necessarily, we probably thought they (were)" replied DeRozan, who scored 14 of his game-high 31 points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter, spearheading a lopsided second half and leading Toronto to a 104-83 win over Atlanta. "We picked it up," he continued. "We understood they were going to come out play hard because we are neck-and-neck in the race in the conference. We understood how much this game meant." The Raptors overtook Atlanta for third place in the Eastern Conference standings last month and the Hawks have been knocking on the door ever since. With the victory, Toronto handed the Hawks - who now hold the fifth seed - their fifth straight loss and padded their own cushion over fourth-place Chicago going into this weekends All-Star festivities. At 28-24, the Raptors sit atop their division at the break for the second time in franchise history and first since they won the Atlantic in the 2006-07 season. "It means a lot to be where were at right now," DeRozan said, "but it really dont mean nothing unless we keep it up. Weve got to keep it growing, we cant be comfortable with it because teams in our division (are) definitely still coming." Leading by one at intermission, the Raptors outscored the struggling Hawks 59-39 in the second half, holding them to 30 per cent shooting and forcing eight turnovers while committing just one themselves. DeRozan made seven of his 10 field goal attempts, and all four of his free throws, in the half. Most importantly the Raptors executed their game plan defensively, rotating and closing out hard, limiting one of the better three-point shooting teams in the league to four treys on 20 attempts from beyond the arch. "We had to make sure we were there and the way the game started I (didnt) think we got the memo before the game," Casey said. "We continued to grind it, stuck with the game plan, guys stuck together and grinded it out." It wasnt their most ascetically pleasing victory but its one that fell right into the Raptors wheelhouse, one that played into the identity and personality Casey has urged his team to carry into the seasons unofficial second half. "Like I told our guys," he said, "the second half is going to be a grind. Its not going to be pretty (but) we dont want it to be pretty. Its going to be hard and everybody has to be committed in the locker room." The break comes at a perfect time for the Raptors. Although they go into it with confidence having won two straight, both at home - overall theyve won 10 of 12 at the Air Canada Centre - many of them could use the rest and relaxation time. For the second straight game Amir Johnson was a spectator - fashioning a personalized Raptors jersey on the back of his vest as he watched from the bench - still nursing a sore right ankle. Hell have over 10 days of rest before the team reconvenes in Washington for Tuesdays game against the Wizards. For the rest of the team this five-day layoff is an opportunity to heal various aches and pains that accumulate over a long season and refocus heading into the stretch run. "Me personally I need the rest," said Kyle Lowry, who had another double-double - 16 points and 13 assists - on Wednesday. "I know everybody needs the rest. You get to mentally relax and physically relax also and its always important to take care of your body at this time (of year). You rarely get a five-day stretch in the season so (we have to) take advantage of it." Nike Air Max Thea Udsalg . Fognini won 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 after Argentinas Carlos Berlocq had beaten Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 on the outdoor clay surface. Doubles are set for Saturday with reverse singles on Sunday to decide which team reaches the quarterfinals. Nike Air Max 2017 . Louis Cardinals continued their offensive tear with a 9-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a four-game series. ATLANTA -- Josh Smith was glad to get past his homecoming. Smiths former Atlanta teammates were glad to hang on for an ugly win. Paul Millsap, signed in the off-season to replace Smith, had 19 points to steal the spotlight in Smiths return to Atlanta, leading the Hawks to a 93-85 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Smith, who signed with Detroit after nine seasons with the Hawks, had 11 points while shooting 5 of 15 from the field. "Im glad I got this one under my belt," Smith said. "Now we can move on and just focus on playing basketball." There was a mixed response for Smith in pregame introductions but only applause following a "Thanks Josh Smith" message on the video board during the first timeout. "It was what I expected, kind of," Smith said. "Some cheering, a little bit of boos, but its all good." Smith called his return to his hometown "kind of a surreal moment" before the game. Al Horford, Smiths former teammate, said "it was different" to have Smith wearing the Pistons blue uniform on the Hawks home court. "Josh was a teammate of mine for a long time and I know he felt it," Horford said. "I felt it, too. There was a little nostalgia, I think you could say. But it was good. Hes trying to move forward and so are we, but it was just good to see him." The Hawks pulled away after leading 66-64 through three quarters. Jeff Teague scored 18 points and DeMarre Carroll had 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks was ejected with 2:36 remaining after complaining to an official during a timeout. Cheeks wouldnt reveal what he said that drew the two technical fouls and ejection. "Nothing. Just got em," Cheeks said. "I dont need to get fined!" Brandon Jennings led Detroit with 21 points. Rodney Stuckey had 18 before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Each team showed signs of playing the seecond of back-to-back nights. Nike Air Max Thea Grå. . "Its important during the season to find a way to win some ugly games and I think our group tonight found a way to do that, to find some energy when it probably wasnt easy for either group," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. Added Horford: "It wasnt the prettiest game. We just made enough plays to win the game." Millsap started after missing the Hawks loss at Miami on Tuesday night with a sore right elbow. Millsap, who made eight of 14 shots, said he wasnt motivated by comparisons with Smith. "Im not Josh Smith," Millsap said. "It didnt faze me at all. It wasnt about me. Its not about me." Instead, it was about Smith for many fans and perhaps for the forward who had three steals and blocked two shots. "My teammates know how important the game is to me," Smith said before the game. Asked what he has missed about his Atlanta hometown, Smith said: "My house. And my mothers home cooking." Smith missed a jump hook on the Pistons first possession and then missed two 3-pointers before making a layup for his first field goal. Smith wasnt the only player to struggle with poor shooting early. Each team shot under 30 per cent in the first quarter. The Pistons led 46-43 at halftime before Atlanta took a 66-64 advantage into the final period. Mike Scott scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. Teague had eight points in the final period. NOTES: Kyle Korver has made a 3-pointer in 85 consecutive games, four shy of matching the NBA record set by Dana Barros (1994-96). Korver left the game in the first period with a left eye laceration. The cut did not require stitches and he returned early in the second period to make his first of two 3s. ... The Pistons were without G Chauncey Billups (left knee tendinitis), G Will Bynum (sore left hamstring) and F Charlie Villanueva (back). ... The teams play again Friday night at Detroit. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '

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