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    导出博客文章TORONTO - With just over seven seconds left on the clock and Fridays game hanging in the balance, a sellout Air Canada Centre crowd rose to their feet, holding their breath in anticipation. Kevin Knox Jersey . Theyve been holding their breath for six years now, but finally they can exhale. As Celtics forward Jared Sullinger forced up a wild, off-balance runner, the building erupted. It was official. The Raptors are heading back to the post-season. "We made it," shouted Amir Johnson repeatedly as the media filtered into Torontos locker room. "Its a satisfying, kind of overwhelming feeling," he described, following his teams 105-103 victory over Boston, officially snapping the Raptor five-year playoff drought. "Its been six years since this team, this organization made it to the playoffs. This team has worked so hard. We deserved it. Weve been playing our butts off, playing through injuries. Weve had our ups and downs."  "Weve made it." Not lost on the team was the fact that they stole a game, their 41st victory of the season, that probably shouldnt have come down to the final possession. Down by four with under three minutes to play, it looked like the Raptors would have to hope for a New York Knicks loss later in the evening or wait until Sunday to punch their ticket to the playoffs. Theyve been resilient all year, so why wouldnt they be now? First DeMar DeRozan drained a fadeaway jumper, then Johnson hit the game-winning put-back layup. "It was fitting," Dwane Casey said. DeRozan and Johnson, the teams longest tenured players, were responsible for Torontos final four points. For them, this moment was a little sweeter. "It means a lot, honestly, man," said DeRozan, the Raptors fifth-year guard, who will make his post-season debut next month. "Especially for me and Amir and what weve been through here with the tough seasons, through the ups and downs and the struggles. We stuck with it." The only player in the building that could give a firsthand account of the Raptors last playoff experience - a five-game, first round defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic in 2007-08 - was Celtics forward Kris Humphries. Only four other players from that team are currently on an NBA roster, but DeRozan and Johnson – who arrived the year after – have both been in Toronto long enough to appreciate what a night like this means to the franchise, the city and the Raptors long-suffering fan base. "It was all worth it," said DeRozan. "These fans stuck behind us every single day and theyre going to continue to do so. Thats the reason why we work extremely hard. Our fans definitely push us." Of course, it was just a formality. It was inevitable, only a matter of time. Toronto wasnt going to go winless in its remaining games, just like the Knicks were not going to run the table the rest of the way. Still, they have refused to count their chickens before they hatched and for that you can credit the humility and focus of their head coach. Moments after the win, a loud chorus of applause could be heard from outside the teams locker room. Finally, they could celebrate, albeit behind closed doors. Even Casey, who wouldnt pat himself on the back and likely never will, found a way to indulge in what the evening represented. "Were excited about it," he admitted. "My hat is off to all the guys whove come through here," said Casey, crediting MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum as well as former general manager Bryan Colangelo for their contributions to the process. "To DeMar DeRozan [and] Amir Johnson, who have been through it all and for the fans, the fans for understanding and being patient. I know they didnt see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but its a process. You dont build Rome overnight in this league. Is very difficult to do. You talk about rebuilding, its a hard gig." The Raptors have surpassed every rational expectation, going 35-19 since the trade of Rudy Gay in early December. Its been a season of firsts for a franchise on the cusp of its 20th birthday, a franchise many pundits wrote off for dead after selling off its highest-paid player. "Everybody who writes something on a piece of paper isnt always right, thats how I look at it," said DeRozan, the first-time All-Star. Hes right. He and his team have proven a lot of people wrong. As the Celtics made their run, cutting their deficit - once 14 - down and ultimately taking the lead, DeRozan came through yet again. With Kyle Lowry slowed by an ankle injury he sustained in the first half, DeRozan picked him up and scored 24 of his game-high 30 points in the final 24 minutes. 16 of his 27 career 30-point games have come this season. With 10 games remaining and their spot in the pos-tseason locked up, the team can shift its attention to seeding but most importantly, going into the playoffs healthy and with momentum. "We cant be satisfied," Casey repeated, with his team moving into soul possession of the third seed following the Chicago Bulls loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. "We still want to continue on and weve still got to get better." Lowrys injury scare With three minutes to go in the second quarter, Lowry limped to the locker room after turning his right ankle while back-pedaling to get back on defence.  After being examined by the medical staff, the Raptor point guard and most important player was able to return, starting the second half with his ankle taped up. As per usual, Lowry shrugged off whatever pain he was in after the win. "Im a little sore, but Im fine," he said after scoring nine points in 33 minutes. "Im okay. Good to go." Revenge of the second unit Naturally, Casey was frustrated with his under-performing bench after they were outscored 51-7 in Boston on Wednesday. "I challenged them before the game," said the Raptors coach. "I got on them about their productivity or lack thereof in the Boston game. I challenged them. I said, Look, guys want playing time, when the opportunity comes, youve got to do something, whether its defence, knocking somebody down, taking a charge, whatever. And they came through." Greivis Vasquez, who scored all seven of the benchs points on Wednesday, led the teams reserves with 15, but Chuck Hayes and John Salmons were also productive on both ends of the floor. Combined, the three former Kings - along with Tyler Hansbrough, who logged five minutes - totalled 28 points on the night. Patterson nearing a return Although he missed his 12th straight game, Patrick Patterson has been making progress and appears to be on the verge of returning from his right elbow injury. Although the Raptors havent had much practice time to get Patterson back up to speed - a concern Casey expressed before Fridays game - the Raptors forward has been able to participate in smaller, three-on-three scrimmages since being cleared for contact earlier this week. "[His] conditioning is probably going to be step behind a little bit," Casey acknowledged. "Its not going to be where he was before stepping away, so thats going to be expected. Thats why now we need to kind of get him back in rhythm and with the lack of practice time its going to have to be in a game situation." Patterson could be back in uniform this weekend in Florida, as the Raptors begin a back-to-back set with the Magic on Sunday before visiting the Heat Monday evening. The stat With their 41st win of the season, the Raptors secured a .500 record for the sixth time in franchise history and first since 2007-08, the last year they qualified for the playoffs. The quote "My grandmother called," Johnson told the media after his team clinched a spot in the playoffs. "She said that she was proud." Anthony Mason Jersey . -- Canadas Justin Shin shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday on PGA Wests Nicklaus Tournament Course to take the first-round lead in the Web. Mark Jackson Jersey . - Tom Brady and the Patriots routed the Bengals and quieted the doubters.England manager Roy Hodgson admits he has a selection headache ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Russia in Marseille. Hodgson has shuffled his squad and tried out different formations in Englands warm-up matches, but he now needs to finalise his starting XI for the Stade Velodrome showdown. Yes, there is a selection headache in terms of so many good players who could quite easily command a place in the team, he said.It has not been easy to select a team but I dont think I am alone, there are quite a few teams in the competition who have got a strong squad. England manager Roy Hodgson assesses his squad during training But I am pleased with the squad I have and I have all 23 players fit and ready for selection. Hodgsons mini teamsheet England manager jokes with media during training It is the youngest ever England squad for a European Championship with an average age of 25.8 - with only four players remaining from Euro 2012 - but Hodgson does not believe the lack of experience will be a problem.  I think we have got qualities, there is no doubt about that, he said. Wayne Rooney dismisses claims that hes not the player he was in the media conference before Englands opening game of Euro 2016 We are relatively inexperienced because it is a young team in terms of age and number of caps. Damyean Dotson Jersey. That cant be seen as an advantage per se but I think that lack of experience is countered in some way by the youth, by the energy. Most importantly of all, it is a group of players who are really keen to do well. They have prepared extremely well, so I cant ask any more of them.All I can do is keep trying to guide them along the way and hope that they succeed as well as they would like to.Hodgson erred on the side of caution when asked how far he felt England, who also play Wales and Slovakia in Group B, could go in the tournament.He said: We want to go as far as we possibly can and well work very hard to play well enough to get as far as we can. But you never know whats going to happen in a football match.Each game has its own history, you dont know which opponents you are going to come up against, you never know what fates will be for you, so were trying to be ready for everything and were trying to stay in this competition for as long as possible.Catch up with all the latest Euro 2016 news with Euro Breakfast each morning on Sky Sports News HQ from 6am Also See: England v Russia preview Hodgsons mini teamsheet How far will England go? 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      December 16, 2018 10:43 PM PST
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