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PORTLAND - DeMar DeRozan validated his newly minted All-Star title, spearheading the Raptors comeback on Saturday but theres one play hed like to have back. With just under five seconds remaining - the Raptors having clawed back from a 19-point deficit and pulled within one - DeRozan took the handoff from Chuck Hayes. As he tried to create space, turning the corner with Blazers guard Wesley Matthews draped all over him, the first-time All-Star fumbled the ball off his calf. His reaction was instant and said it all. He knew he, quite literally, dropped the ball. "I lost the ball, I put that one on me," DeRozan said, owning up to the miscue. "Ive got to keep the ball in my hands and not turn it over, at least give us a chance to get a shot off." Fact is the Raptors had that opportunity, a shot to steal a game they had no business hanging around in, because of DeRozans heroics. DeRozan, like the rest of his teammates, came out flat in the first half. Coming off a win in Denver the night before, Toronto shot 35 per cent from the field in the opening 24 minutes, misfiring on all eight attempts from three-point range. As a team they couldnt execute, missed makeable shots and left their defensive effort in the Mile High City. It was ugly. "The first half, we came out with a typical back-to-back approach," said coach Dwane Casey, who was critical of his team after they let up in the fourth quarter of Fridays double digit victory over the Nuggets. "It wasnt us." DeRozan, playing in his second game after missing two with an ankle injury, had just six points, shooting 2-of-8. Whatever was said at the break seemed to wake up the fifth-year guard. DeRozan could do no wrong in the second half, where he scored 30 of his game-high 36 points and recorded 10 of his career-best 12 assists. "I mean, hes an All-Star. Yall see it," said Kyle Lowry, who should be joining DeRozan in New Orleans later this month. "Hes an All-Star for a reason. He did an unbelievable job of making shots, getting to the line and just getting it going. We know. Weve seen it before so its no surprise to us." Lowry, like his backcourt comrade, was also much better in the second half - he had 23 points and eight assists on the night - as were subs Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes, who came in and helped the Raptors find themselves defensively. The resilient Raptors dug deep once again - something weve become accustomed to seeing after slow starts this season - and when it came down to one final possession, there was never a doubt who the play was being drawn up for. "[DeRozan] wanted the ball and when your best player, your All-Star wants to the ball you give him the ball," Lowry said. "They did a good job defensively and [Matthews] is strong enough to do that but Im still getting the ball to [DeRozan] every single time in that position." Within seconds of losing the ball, DeRozan walked off with both hands on his head in disappointment. He tapped his chest as if to say, "my bad" and lifted the jersey over his head. "We put ourselves in that position," Casey said, stressing the poor start. "[DeRozan] wanted the ball, we gave it to him, but I give him props for getting us to that point." "I commend DeMar for carrying us. He put us on his shoulders and took us down the stretch and put us in a position to win. Thats all you ask." The loss - Torontos sixth straight in Portland - said a lot about how far the Raptors have come, how far DeRozan has come. If there was ever any doubt about DeRozans All-Star candidacy or his growth as a leader, Saturdays game served as a silencer. He had his full arsenal on display, demanded the ball with the game in the balance and when it was all said and done he took responsibility for his blunder. No excuses, he pointed the finger at himself. Meanwhile, his team fought the good fight, something they failed to do when they last visited Portland. A year ago, the Raptors experienced the absolutely lowest point of an already low season, dropping an embarrassing 92-74 contest to the Blazers on Dec. 10, 2012, the finale of a winless five-game road trip. They lost Lowry and Andrea Bargnani to long-term injuries in the game, while Amir Johnson was ejected for uncharacteristically tossing his mouth-guard at an official. Their skid in Portland continues, they havent won in The City of Roses in seven years, but theyre not the same team that left the city in turmoil 13 months ago. "We put ourselves in a position to win the game even after all that," Casey said. "So thats what you have to ask for." Discount Jerseys . Nick Holden scored two goals and had an assist and the Avalanche held off the Nashville Predators 5-4 Saturday night for their fourth straight victory. Jerseys NFL Wholesale . Dont miss a single shot, live on TSN beginning at 7pm et/4pm pt. Winners of their last eight games, the Heat return to Toronto for the second time in the month of November. After beginning the season 4-3, allowing 100.9 points on 47 per cent shooting, Miamis resurgent defence has vaulted them back to the top of a weak Eastern Conference. http://www.jerseyscheapauthentic.com/. Durant finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds, Jackson matched his career high with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting and Lamb scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, lifting the Thunder to a 94-88 win over San Antonio and snapping the Spurs 11-game winning streak. Wholesale Authentic Jerseys .Pete Morelli said the back judge threw a flag on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens on a pass to Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew in Dallas 24-20 wild-card win Sunday. But the head linesman said there wasnt enough contact and that Hitchens was face-guarding, which isnt a penalty in the NFL. Cheap Jerseys Fast Shipping . The Calgary Stampeders running back received the West Division nomination for the CFLs top individual award Thursday in voting by the Football Reporters of Canada and leagues eight head coaches.Forty eight matches are now in the books. Sixteen teams have moved on. Sixteen teams have gone home. There have been 136 goals, countless talking points, and numerous standout performances. Its time to make sense of the last 15 days. Here is your best and worst from the Group Stage. Team of the Group Stage GK: Keylor Navas (CRC) – Only let in one goal, a penalty in his opening 45 minutes of the action. Navas made one of the saves of the tournament in the 44th minute in the same half against Uruguay. A shot by Diego Forlan took a dramatic deflection and had eyes for the top corner. Navas ranged back and made an incredible save on his off-shoulder, showing standout body control and concentration making the unorthodox stop. If Navas doesnt make that save, Costa Rica doesnt come back to win that match, and probably doesnt advance from the group. It was a special stop from a special goalkeeper. RB: Serge Aurier (CIV) – Pacey. Strong. Purposeful. And positionally sound. The 22-year old did it all in the group stage. He set up both goals fantastically well in the 2-1 comeback win in the opener against Japan. Its disappointing his team couldnt provide enough going forward against Greece to advance to the next round. Aurier is an emerging top talent and showed why he is so coveted. CB: Giancarlo Gonzalez (CRC) – The Columbus Crew centre-back was a rock throughout the Group Stage. He had no better performance than in the second match against Italy, making what ended up being a four-man Italian attack look like a bunch of amateurs. Timely tackles and the general of Costa Ricas backline, he kept the group organized and keeping a high line. CB: Rafael Marquez (MEX) – The fourth World Cup captaining El Tri and perhaps putting in his finest performance. Marquez has led a young backline with composure and strength against a group featuring marquee attacking talent. The job he did on Croatias Mario Mandzukic was a master-class, as was his match-winning goal, the third straight World Cup he has scored. The performance has been one of the most unexpected in the tournament, slowing down over recent years. The 35 year old has been class in Brazil. LB: Daley Blind (NED) – The versatility is most impressive with the left back. His presence going forward has been as purposeful as his defending in the adaptable wingback position. His ball from mid-field on Robin van Persies opening goal of the tournament was a thing of beauty. And he thrived in a more defensive role against Chile with Bruno Martin Indi out with Dirk Kuyt in front of him. Few have looked better at the World Cup. M: Hector Herrera (MEX) - The Mexican keeps getting better as the games go by. He has provided a reliable midfield link to the attacking players and has threatened multiple times on goal. The work-rate is second to none and quality is there to equal. His game against Croatia was worthy of Man of the Match. The future is bright for the 24 year old. M: James Rodriguez (COL) – A midfield engine and the heart and soul of Colombia. Radamel Falcaos absence was deemed disastrous, but not with the number 10 manning the field. Hes taken the tournament by storm, contributing three goals and two assists, capping his fine group stage performance off by chipping the keeper after coming on as a second half substitute against Japan. From dropping deep, to providing hustle plays, to decisiveness in the final third, hes been everywhere. Remember this name. M: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (COL) – Rodriguezs teammate on the right wing has even more flare. The footwork and pace has been unmatched down the flank. A goal and three assists to his tally is a testament to his quality. F: Thomas Muller (GER) – Mr. Golden Boot himself. Without a true number nine, Muller is the next best thing for Germany. Four goals in the tournament, including an opening match hat trick puts him in position for back-to-back World Cup scoring titles. Only 24, Muller is threatening to shatter records in the not-so distant future, having scored nine World Cup goals already. The flexibility in the German system allows him to freelance to a degree. Muller has found the spaces and has finished with authority. F: Arjen Robben (NED) – The best player coming out of the best group, Robben has to make this list. His speed and craftiness on the run is a game-changer. Three goals and an assist so far, and many other opportunities coming close, Robben maintained his top form through all group stage matches with production in all. He wore the captains armband in Robin van Persies absence against Chile, and showed remarkable composure in a difficult game. He is the best counter-attacking player in what has been the counter-attacking World Cup. F: Lionel Messi (ARG) – Nigeria head coach Stephen Keshi remarked Messi is from another planet after the Argentines two-goal performance against his team in a 3-2 win. Messi was that good. In his two previous games, Messi was unspectacular, but scored the game-winner in both. There is no player that can take advantage of weakness more than Messi. He narrowly edges Neymar on the list because of the flair for the dramatic. Messi has put an otherwise subpar Argentina on his shoulders. This may very well be his World Cup. Group Stage Second Team GK: Guillermo Ochoa (MEX) – Save on the tournament on NeymarRB: Daryl Janmaat (NED) – The bookend to Blind has been likewise impressiveCB: Gary Medel (CHI) – Chilean bulldog playing much bigger than his statureCB: Mats Hummels (GER) – Professional, intelligent performances from key to the German defenceLB: Junior Diaz (CRC) – Athelticism and ability to get forward have been a nightmare for slower competitionM: Charles Aranguiz (CHI) – Goal against Spain the cherry on top of thorough group stage performancesM: Nigel De Jong (NED) – Defensive cog has remained composed, allowing attacking players get out in frontM: Toni Kroos (GER) – Passing machine, dictating tempo from the middle of the parkF: Neymar (BRA) – Four goals makes puts him in joint tournament lead with flair to spareF: Robin Van Persie (NED) – Best goal so far, but suspension keeps him out of first teamF: Karim Benzema (FRA) – No player looks more hungry for goals Top Five Moments 5) Timmy Terrific (AUS vs. NED) – Tim Cahills finish on thhe volley with his opposite foot rivals for goal of the tournament.ddddddddddddSeconds after the Netherlands took a 1-0 lead, the Australian talisman hit a ball as pure as they come, with the ball hitting underneath the crossbar and in. The moment was breathtaking, with the Aussies full of belief. It was a goal scorers goal and there wont be a much better truer strike in the tournament. 4) Ochoa to the Rescue (MEX vs. BRA) – Neymars header had eyes for goal if it were not for the out-stretched Mexican goalkeeper. Goal-line technology made the save look even better, showing Ochoa taking the ball off the line. It was incredible bravery getting to the ball with the post looming, with reaction time that dazzles. No save will be better in Brazil. Ochoa was the hero on the day in a 0-0 draw. 3) Persieing (NED vs. ESP) – The World Cups hottest fad came from a goal of the highest quality. Down 1-0 to Spain in the 44th minute of the mouth-watering Group B opener, Robin van Persie at full pace took a long ball through the air from midfield and without hesitation struck with a diving header for the ages. The ball found the top corner past Iker Casillas with van Persie going face-first into the ground. RVP admitted after he saw Casillas off his line and picked out the spot. The difficulty level is off the charts and van Persie delivered. Were all better off for the photos that have followed with even RVPs own grandfather face first into the ground, Persieing. 2) Messi Magic (ARG vs. IRN) – It was supposed to be a walk in the park for Argentina. Instead, Iran put up an 11-man defensive wall that seemed unbreakable. Iran even grew in confidence, pushing forward for a potential winner. The match was settled in the 91st minute through the dramatics coming off the left-foot of Argentinas number 10. Iranian defenders gave Messi his lethal left side for the first time in the match. Messi seized the opportunity, burying it low left side and delivering the dagger into the hearts of all of Tehran. A moment as such is made for the best. The legend of Messi grows. 1) Varela at the Death (POR vs. USA) – The United States were seconds away from advancing to the Round of 16. They had come from behind to take a 2-1 lead over Portugal in the difficult conditions in Manaus. Never seen before numbers of Americans watched in primetime, as their new soccer heroes were about to deliver to the nation. That was until Cristiano Ronaldo, who was frustrated all night, intervened. Eder won the ball in the midfield before the ball was played wide with Ronaldo. With time running down, Demarcus Beasley assumed Ronaldo was going to take the ball to goal. Beasley stepped back to give space and Ronaldo obliged, taking advantage of the space delivering a cross for the ages to the on-running Varela. The Portuguese substitute finished and the American dream was shattered. Shock and Awe. It was the last meaningful touch of the ball and the most dramatic finish imaginable. The final was 2-2. The USA would have to wait another day. Worst Five Moments 5) Fred Flop (BRA vs. CRO) – The Brazilian striker duped the match official into calling a penalty on Croatia in the tournament opener. It was a clear flop by Fred, and a horrible way to open the tournament. 4) Akinfeev Howler (RUS vs. KOR) – Every tournament has one of two. Igor Akinfeev obliged with worst goal conceded. An innocent shot by Lee Keun-Ho went right through the hands of the Russian number one. It was a sign of what was to come for Russia. It was a nightmare start to a nightmare competition for Fabio Capellos side. 3) Cameroon Chaos (CMR vs. CRO) – It was a game Cameroon lost their heads. A mindless sending off of Alex Song put the team at a deficit. After being played off the pitch by their opponents, matters got worse in the dying minutes as Benoit Assou- Ekotto confronted Benjamin Moukandjo, head-butting his teammate. It was an ugly incident showing the level of dysfunction in the team. It was an embarrassment of extraordinary proportions to happen on the global stage. Assou-Ekotto did not play in Cameroons final match. 2) Dzeko Disallowed Goal (BIH vs. NGA) – Edin Dzeko had a goal in the 21st minute ruled offside. He wasnt. It was the most blatant case of a goal disallowed that should have stood in the group stage. Mexico was denied two in similar fashion against Cameroon that were less egregious. The disallowed goal proved costly as Bosnia and Herzegovina lost the match and were knocked out of the tournament. The case is the clearest shout that technology should be used to adjudicate offside-goal decisions. 1) Suarez Bite (URU vs. ITA) – It will be the most vivid image coming out of this World Cup for all the wrong reasons. The shoulder bite of Giorgio Chiellini by serial biter Luis Suarez is a stain on the game and takes away from what has been one of the best sporting tournaments we have ever seen. The defence of Suarez by his Uruguayan teammates and federation are equally disturbing. There is no room in the game for an individual like Suarez. The decision was swift by FIFA to punish and they should be applauded for the heavy punishment (four month suspension from the game and nine match international ban). Its a travesty the bite was not caught when the chomp went down. Or else Italy may be still alive leaving Uruguay with plenty to chew on. Power Rankings – Most Impressive Teams (FYI – my two World Cup finalist picks, Germany and Argentina, are not in the top five) 5) Mexico4) Brazil3) France2) Colombia1) Netherlands Best and Worst Best Match: Netherlands vs. SpainWorst Match: Iran vs. NigeriaBest Referee: Mark Geiger (assistant referee Canadian Joe Fletcher)Worst Referee: Yuichi NishimuraBest fan support: tie – Colombia/ArgentinaBest Player: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)Worst Player: Wilson Palacios (Honduras)Biggest Disappointment: SpainBiggest Surprise: Costa RicaTournament Dark Horse left-standing: MexicoBest Route to the Final: ArgentinaMost Controversial Decision: Claudio Marchisio sending off/Samaras penaltyBest Group: GWorst Group: FBest Head Coach: Miguel Herrera (Mexico) and Marc Wilmots (Belgium)Worst Head Coach: Fabio Capello (Russia)Best Goal: RVP (NED) vs. ESPWorst Miss: Gekas (GRE) vs. COLBest Team Eliminated: Ivory CoastWorst Team Remaining: Greece @WheelerTSNgareth.wheeler@bellmedia.ca ' ' '

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