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is entirely proud of, certainly not one he
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TORONTO - Its not a trait that Dwane Casey is entirely proud of, certainly not one hes comfortable relying on, but his team has mastered the art of procrastination. The Raptors had an early deadline Sunday, a dreaded afternoon game, and they left the bulk of their work until the last minute, as theyve done so many times before. Casey - like an angry parent, stringent teacher or meticulous boss - gave them the wake-up call they sorely needed. Down by as many as 14 points and allowing the visiting Hawks to shoot 54 per cent in the first half, the Raptors coach stormed into the locker room and addressed his team at intermission. "I sang them a lullaby," he joked. "I gave them some milk and cookies and said, lets go." You didnt have to be a fly on the wall to gauge the tone of Caseys halftime sermon. "Oh, man, he came in here yelling," said DeMar DeRozan after Torontos 96-86 comeback victory over Atlanta. "Once Casey yells, you either have to do your job or youre going to hear him yelling after the game. We understood." Having dropped their first four Sunday afternoon games this season - allowing at least 112 points in each of them - the Raptors hit the snooze again on this day. Toronto shot 28 per cent in the opening quarter, scoring 16 points and committing seven turnovers.  "I told Tim Leiweke on the way in [the locker room], it was like pulling teeth," Casey said. "It was like going to the dentist office in that first half." "We were playing terrible [in] that first half," echoed DeRozan. It took nearly 17 minutes of game-time before he registered his first field goal. It took nearly 20 minutes before Kyle Lowry made his first bucket. "We knew what we had to do." Trailing by nine points to begin the fourth quarter, the Raptors finally got to business. Led by its two best players, Toronto scored 36 points in the final 12 minutes - more than they tallied in the first and third combined - while holding the Hawks to 15. On the season, Toronto has scored 209 points more than its allowed in the fourth quarter, the best mark in the NBA, and its not close. The two-time defending champion Miami Heat, second best, have outscored opponents by 141 in the final frame. Conference leaders San Antonio and Indiana are third and fourth best. The Raptors have won 10 games in which theyve trailed after three quarters this season, something they accomplished just three times a year ago. "Were just resilient, to be honest, man," said DeRozan. He and Lowry combined for 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the fourth after scoring 23 on 9-of-24 in the first three quarters. "We understand how important the game is coming out in the fourth quarter," continued, DeRozan, who finished with 21 points. "Everything matters. Our attention to detail on both ends definitely steps up. We understand weve got to pull out a win somehow, someway." Lowrys minutes down in win Less than five minutes into the game, Lowry was sent to the bench, replaced by Greivis Vasquez. It was an unprecedented early-game benching for the Raptors point guard who has been logging heavy minutes, playing the bulk of, if not the duration of the first quarter. He did not seem hurt, nor did it appear to be for disciplinary reasons. Later, less than six minutes into the third, he was replaced again. Limiting Lowrys minutes was the plan going in, Casey explained after the game. "Hes had a lot of minutes," said the Raptors coach. "I was talking to our medical people, and as an organization, were going to try to keep his minutes down as much as possible. Thats hard, believe me, as a coach and for him. Hes such a competitor." Theres nothing specific thats ailing Lowry, Casey said and he confirmed. Its the wear and tear of a long season that has the team concerned about Lowry, who is averaging nearly 37 minutes per night, a career-most. "I dont think [any] player in the NBA right now feels 100 per cent," said Lowry, after scoring 25 points Sunday. "Its that time of the year where everyone has nicks and nacks and bruises and all that stuff." Lowry logged 27 minutes, his fewest since Feb. 3 in Utah, a game he left with a knee injury. Amir goes down, and gets back up Battling for a rebound late in the fourth, Amir Johnson collided with Hawks guard Shelvin Mack and went down hard, holding his left knee. You may not be surprised when Johnson hits the deck, although its usually after tweaking one of his rickety ankles, but you shouldnt be surprised when he hops back up, which was the case again Sunday, waving off the trainers and remaining in the game. "It wasnt a scare, it was just initial pain," said Johnson, who had six points to go along with eight boards against the Hawks. "Once I walked it off, I was fine." His teammates have come to expect the occasional injury scare from him but that doesnt make it easier to cope with. "To be honest, hes probably our heart and soul so when that happened, it kind of scared us a little bit," Lowry said. "Ive seen Amir get hit by a Mack Truck and get up," joked DeRozan. "I always hate to see him go down. One thing about Amir, Amir plays through any and everything. He kind of scared me tonight. When he grabbed his knee, I kind of cussed at him a little to make sure he was alright." Going deep With Patrick Patterson out, still nursing an elbow injury, and Casey searching for bursts of energy in a lacklustre first half, the Raptors used 12 of their available players in Sundays game. Vasquez logged 28 minutes and led the bench in scoring for the fourth consecutive game with 12. No other Raptors reserve played more than Tyler Hansbroughs 12 minutes. Chuck Hayes played well, scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds in 11 minutes and Nando De Colo logged 10, hitting his first field goal in eight games with the Raptors. The stat Lowry extended his career-best streak of 19 or more points to nine games. Hes averaging 22.6 over that stretch, scoring 20 or more in each of his last six contests. The quote "Im only 24, Ill play the whole game," said DeRozan, on the possibility of having his minutes cut down, like Lowrys. "Kyles old. Hes damn near 30. I understand, youve got to do what youve got to do. Im ready for whatever." Matt Bonner Spurs Jersey . After making his All-Star debut in Fridays Rising Stars Challenge, the Raptors sophomore centre wont be sticking around for the duration of the weekends festivities, thinking about the big picture instead. Spurs T-shirts . Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin, Bode Miller and Tim Jitloff underlined the squads enormous potential on the Rettenbach glacier in Austria. http://www.authenticspursauthority.com/m...ersey-c-5/ . 2015 Oscar nomination pending. Here is an open letter from Steven Stamkos to his fans: When I shot this final Moment Zero film last August, it was a fun few days on set with Coke Zero and Jordan Eberle in my hometown of Markham. Danny Green Spurs Jersey . Granlund scored 2:04 into the first period. Max Reinhart, on his first NHL shift of the season, neatly stripped the puck from Zack Smith at the Senators blue-line. As he moved in, his attempted shot deflected into the slot where Granlund buried a shot past Craig Anderson. Bruce Bowen Jersey . First, Ivan Nova decided to have season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery. Then Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games for using pine tar.The St. Louis Blues, 7-1-1 in their last nine games, continue to hold top spot in the TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings, ahead of the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. This seasons Western dominance is reflected in rankings that have eight of the top nine teams from the West. Among them, the Colorado Avalanche moved up from seven to four with a three-game winning streak and the Kings vaulted from six to three on both the strength of Ben Scrivens play in goal and news that right winger Jeff Carter is returning to action. The Anaheim Ducks also climbed three spots, to eight and sudden stability in goal lifted the Nashville Predators from 21 to 15. One Eastern rep moved up three spots, from 14 to 11, the Montreal Canadiens, who are now 5-1-1 in their last seven games. Heading the other way, the Minnesota Wild droppeed from four to nine with goaltending Josh Harding getting hurt and the Dallas Stars slipped from nine to 14 after being outscored 9-3 in two losses last week.dddddddddddd As for other Canadian clubs, the Maple Leafs move from 15 to 12, now that they have a healthier cast of centres, while the Canucks dipped one spot, to 13. With one regulation win in their last seven games, the Winnipeg Jets fall one spot, from 18 to 19, and the Ottawa Senators wheels keep spinning as they slide from 19 to 21. There has been progress in Edmonton, where the Oilers are up to 25 from 28, after three straight wins, and Calgary inches up one spot to 26. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. 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