TORONTO - As the Raptors wandered into the locker room, heads down after Fridays loss to the Knicks, they found a red t-shirt draped over each of their chairs. "Atlantic is ours," read the shirts, delivered by the league that afternoon. Moments earlier they learned that, for the second time in franchise history, the Raptors will be crowned division champions, also earning home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The celebration was not exactly how they expected it. "Its sweet and sour," said Kyle Lowry following Torontos 108-100 loss to the Knicks. Shortly after the Raptors game went final, the Nets would fall to Atlanta at home, in effect clinching the division for Toronto. "Its very sweet that we won the division," the Raptors point guard explained, "but it sucks that we didnt win it [with] a win. But well take the division [title] any day." Its been a long and sometimes strange road for this Raptors team and in that way Fridays bizarre post-game proceedings seemed almost fitting. No one was quite sure how to feel. Torontos defeat, at the hands of a desperate Knicks teams fighting for their playoff lives, exposed a series of lingering concerns for Dwane Casey and his club. Meanwhile, with Chicago coming back from an 18-point deficit to knock off the Pistons, the Raptors fell out of the Eastern Conferences third seed. Do they care who theyll face in the opening round of the postseason, beginning next weekend, on Apr. 19 or 20? "No, not at all," Lowry stated. "Weve proved we can play with anybody in this league," DeRozan added. "We understand that, so it really doesnt matter to us." He was not alone. The consensus in the room was just that, no, theyre not stressing over their first-round opponent, or so they say. In the grand scheme of things it could be the difference between the teams second ever series victory or an early vacation, a reality they all seem to grasp, given their expressions of discontent upon learning that Chicago had won. If the season ended today, Toronto - the fourth seed - would host fifth-placed Brooklyn, a daunting matchup for the inexperienced Raptors, although home-court would play a big factor. "You definitely want to have home-court advantage, because our fans get into it," Amir Johnson said. The Raptors have won 22 of their last 30 games at the Air Canada Centre. "Its always tough to go into someones house and win a game." It would be especially tough to win in Brooklyns gym, should they meet up in the postseason. The Nets loss to Atlanta Friday was just their third at home since the calendar turned to 2014. Whomever they face, the Raptors have some work to do if they hope to advance. The Knicks were the hungrier team on Friday, they wanted it more and Toronto was never able to match that level of intensity. Their inexperience showed against the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, a less than encouraging sign if they do end up seeing the veteran Nets next weekend. Defensively they were a step slow, they got outworked in the paint once again and for the 11th time in their last 19 contests the Raptors surrendered at least 100 points. "We saw it from them for 48 minutes," Casey said of the Knicks, who stayed in playoff contention with the victory, although theyre one loss or Hawks win away from being eliminated. "You have to shake their hands. They came in and made the shots they needed to make." The Raptors, trailing by one to start the fourth, went nearly seven minutes without recording a field goal in the final quarter, squandering an opportunity to tie the franchise win record in front of their home fans. In the end, the sellout crowd could not see their team celebrate a division title in the way they had hoped. Still, for a fan base that has gone six years without watching a single playoff game, Friday was - as Lowry puts it - a "sweet and sour" day. "Its great for the fans, Im excited for the fans," Casey said, upon learning his team had won the division, as the Nets game become a final during his post-game press conference. "Im excited about it. Its good for us. But Im more concerned about getting better and continuing to play." The Raptors have indeed come a long way and the perfect reminder of that, Andrew Wiggins, was sitting baseline in the first row. Six months ago, Wiggins, not a division title, seemed like the end goal. But here they are. "We still want more," said DeRozan, who led the Raptors with 26 points on Friday. "Were not satisfied with nothing [yet]. We understand we have much more basketball to play and a long road to go and we want to take advantage of it, not just get there and say we got there, where people doubted us. We definitely feel like we can go in and make some noise." The Raptors have three games remaining, in Detroit Sunday, at home to the Bucks Monday and their season finale in New York on Wednesday. Chicago also has three to go, a game in New York, a home tilt with the Magic and their final contest in Charlotte. With the Raptors owning the tiebreaker, they sit one game back, needing the Bulls to drop at least one of those games for an opportunity to regain the third seed. Until then, Chicago is in the drivers seat and Toronto can only hope that they hit a speed bump. Another career night for Valanciunas Jonas Valanciunas continued his recent stretch of standout performances Friday in a tough matchup with former defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler. After setting a new career mark in scoring with 26 points in Wednesdays win over the 76ers, the Raptors sophomore centre grabbed a career-best 21 boards to go along with 14 points against the Knicks. Once again, Valanciunas was aggressive and assertive, showing continued growth and a newfound level of confidence, recording his team-leading 24th double-double of the campaign. Amirs return Although Johnson started in his return from a three-game absence, resting a lingering right ankle injury, the Raptors forward played just 17 minutes and was held scoreless, looking a step slow as he worked his way back into game shape. Casey said the limited playing time was not a direct result of the injury or any setback but was more about him struggling to find his wind after sitting out for over a week. "I felt good," Johnson said after the game. "My ankle was alright, a little sore but it was just me getting back into my groove. I felt like I was a step slow but I have these last couple games and Im pretty sure Ill pick it up." Milestones for Lowry and DeRozan With a triple in the first quarter, his 178th of the campaign, Lowry set a new franchise record for most three-pointers made in a season, passing Morris Peterson who had accomplished the feat in 2005-06. Lowry, 4-for-7 from long distance on the night, has come a long way in that regard, hitting the three-ball at a 38 per cent rate this year after struggling with his jump shot early in his career. "Its part of my game now," said the eighth-year point guard. "You cant just expect me to be a driver like my first couple years in the league. Now, its a threat. Its definitely a big thing for me to get as an individual goal. Ill take it and look at it after the season and take in all the things that we accomplished and I accomplished." DeRozan also made his mark on the Raptors record book, besting the teams single season mark for made free throws late in the fourth quarter. DeRozan, who hit 12 of 13 attempts from the line Friday, is third in the league in free throws made and passes Chris Boshs previous record of 504 previously set in 2008-09. "It means a lot," said the Raptors all-star guard. "Only so many guys shoot the amount of free throws I shoot. Its an honour when you look at the names thats up there of guys that shoot free throws at a high clip. Its definitely big. You cant take that away. Hopefully I can beat the record again next season." The stat The Raptors have made 10 or more three-point shots in each of their last five games. Half of their 30 field goals on Friday came from beyond the arc, as they matched a season-high with 15 treys. The quote "Its funny how the expectations change," Casey said. "We go from developing and now all at once we lost to Carmelo Anthony and a team like this and the world [is collapsing]. We still have some growing to do. We have a great foundation from where we are. Now we just want to be ready to go into the playoffs with some momentum." <a href="http://www.soccerpro.us.com/Belgium/">http://www.soccerpro.us.com/Belgium/</a>. You can listen to the game live on TSN Radio 690 in Montreal or on TSN.ca/Montreal. Also, TSN.ca features live streaming of the post-game news conferences from the Bell Centre. The Rangers grabbed a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Final after Sundays 3-2 overtime victory against the visiting Habs. <a href="http://www.soccerpro.us.com/USA/Geoff-Cameron-Jersey/">Geoff Cameron Jersey</a>. The German has taken the pole for three straight races -- winning the first two. Hes aiming for a third consecutive win at the Yeongam circuit and, most importantly, a fourth consecutive F1 championship. <a href="http://www.soccerpro.us.com/France/Morgan-Schneiderlin-Jersey/">http://www.soccerpro.us.com/France/Morgan-Schneiderlin-Jersey/</a>. Moments after his Brooklyn Nets teammates ran out onto the court to congratulate him following their 100-98 overtime win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night, Johnson could only shake his head at scoring only 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting. <a href="http://www.soccerpro.us.com/Germany/Benedikt-Howedes-Jersey/">Benedikt Howedes Jersey</a>. Observant Muslims avoid food and liquids from dawn to dusk during Ramadan but can, and often do, skip it if travelling or doing hard physical labour. Some devout Muslim athletes choose to fast during training or competition, but it can create selection difficulties for the coaches in team sports. <a href="http://www.soccerpro.us.com/USA/DeAndre-Yedlin-Jersey/">DeAndre Yedlin Jersey</a>. Chris Heisey connected for his first grand slam and Devin Mesoraco homered and drove in a career high-tying four runs as Cincinnati took advantage of Tampa Bays depleted pitching staff for a 12-4 victory on Sunday.ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Last week, Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins complained how all anyone in Buffalo wanted to focus on was the teams 14-season playoff drought.Make that 15, Sammy.Bills players young and old are dealing with the all-too-familiar frustrations of being on the outside looking in Monday, a day after extending the NFLs longest active playoff drought following a 26-24 loss at Oakland.As a player whos always been to the playoffs, whos never lost over eight games, it hurts, Watkins said. Im not used to losing. And hopefully, we fix it next year and get back on the right page.Buffalos drought is now tied as the NFLs 10th longest, and worst since the St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals went 15 years between playoff appearances from 1983-97.At least Watkins had a chance to crack a smile Monday. The first-round draft pick spoke while joining fellow rookies on a visit to Buffalos Womens and Childrens Hospital to deliver Christmas gifts and make holiday crafts.It hurts to lose the game, but its very important to wake up and start the day and come here and impact other peoples lives, he said. So I looked forward to just getting out of bed and not looking back on the game. Its over with.The Bills (8-7) are left playing a mean-nothing finale (for them) at AFC East rival New England (12-3) on Sunday.All thats on the line for Buffalo is an opportunity to win its first game at New England since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, and finish with a winning record for the first time since going 9-7 in 2004.The loss to the Raiders (3-12) was a stunner, and exposed many of Buffalos season-long deficiencies on offence.It just breaks your heart, quarterback Kyle Orton said. It was all there. We just didnt have the execution. And in the end, it cost us.The slow-starting offence managed just 10 points and 145 yards on its firsst 10 possessions.dddddddddddd It closed by generating two touchdowns and 166 yards on its last four drives in a rally that fell short.That wasnt enough to overcome an uncharacteristically sloppy outing by a usually stingy defence.After not giving up a touchdown pass against Denvers Peyton Manning and Green Bays Aaron Rodgers in its previous two games, Buffalo allowed Raiders rookie Derek Carr to throw two.There really arent any words for how disappointed I am just with myself and the way we played in general, safety Aaron Williams said. We just let it slip away.The offence provided little help.On 13 carries, Buffalo managed 13 yards, the fourth-lowest total in team history.The ground game has sputtered all season in having managed 1,378 yards through 15 games. The Bills low for a 16-game season is 1,552 set in 2006.Coach Doug Marrone blamed the offensive line.They kicked our butt up front, Marrone said. When you do that, its difficult to run, pass and do a lot of things.The loss renewed questions regarding Marrones job security after his second season. The franchise is entering a new era under owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who purchased the team in October.The Pegulas previously expressed a desire to wait until after the season to evaluate the franchise so as not to distract the team.After beating Green Bay last week, Bills President Russ Brandon voiced his support for Marrone by saying the coach has the team on the right path. Following the loss at Oakland, Marrone insisted hes not going anywhere when asked about a report linking him to the vacancy at Michigan.I have nothing to do with that job, Marrone said. Youre stuck with me. Fortunately or unfortunately.___AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland, California, contributed to this report.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
<a href="http://www.jerseysandchinacheap.com/">Wholesale Jerseys</a> ' ' '