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ix of Torontos next seven games come against losing teams, this is not a habit that w
TORONTO - If you had been up early to watch the Canadian mens hockey team win gold Sunday morning, the Raptors first-half lullaby likely put you back to sleep. Brice Butler Cardinals Jersey . "I think we set basketball back probably 15 years in the first half," Dwane Casey admitted, speaking of his teams lackadaisical effort at the outset of a 105-90 win over the lowly Orlando Magic. Slow starts have become a troublesome trend for the Raptors, who scored 44 points on 42 per cent shooting in the opening 24 minutes Sunday, but theyve also developed a fondness for the second-half explosion, which seems to bail them out more often than not. Whatever Casey is saying or doing in the locker room at intermission, its been working. Once considered to be one of the worst third-quarter teams in the association, the Raptors looked like an inspired team coming out of the halftime break. "Like I told our guys, were going to have a lot of games where were going to have to grind it out," Casey said. "For whatever reason we struggle in the first half [and] come through, turn it on [in the second half], but I think thats also a little bit of growth on our part. Ive seen times when it had been a struggle for close to 40 minutes." The Raptors have indeed turned a corner in that regard, establishing themselves as a lethal second-half club. Toronto has outscored, or tied, its opponent in the second half in 13 straight contests, holding teams to 39 per cent shooting and besting them by 91 total points during that stretch. Since the season-altering trade of Rudy Gay, the Raptors lead the NBA in second-half point differential, outscoring foes by 216 points, 47 more than the second-ranked Indiana Pacers. Led by its dynamic backcourt, Toronto missed just two of its 14 field goal attempts in the third, besting the Magic 36-24 and turning a three-point halftime lead into a 15-point advantage going into the fourth. Neither guard, Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan, missed a shot in the frame. The two combined for 26 of Torontos 36 points. Lowry, who shot just 1-of-7 in the first half, was in the zone. As the clock ticked down to end the period, the Raptors point guard pulled up from 25-feet and drained his fourth three-pointer, putting the finishing touch on a perfect (5-for-5 from the field, 4-for-4 from three, 3-for-3 from the line) 17-point quarter. Although the Raptors have outscored the Magic and Cavaliers 73-45, shooting 76 per cent from the floor in their last two third quarters - en route to a pair of home victories - Lowry and his teammates are wisely concerned about their customary slow starts. "Were not that good of a team to just ease our way into the game," said Lowry, who finished with 28 points on Sunday. "Weve got to come out and play with [that] intensity from the start." Whats behind the teams late wake-up calls? "I cant really put a finger on it," DeRozan said after scoring 17 of his 24 in the second half. "Maybe we just like a challenge sometimes. [We] put ourselves in a tough situation so we can fight ourselves out, but weve got to stop that and understand weve got to come out of the gate so we dont make the game that hard on us." Fortunately, the Raptors were playing host to the leagues worst road team. The Magic, riding a 15-game losing streak away from home, were missing leading scorer Arron Afflalo, absent as a result of an ankle injury. They scored just 14 points in the opening quarter and didnt put up much resistance when the Raptors guards seized control of the game. Toronto managed to seal a double-digit victory despite committing a season-high 24 turnovers, 18 of them coming from Lowry, DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas. While six of Torontos next seven games come against losing teams, this is not a habit that will be kind to the playoff-bound Raptors as they approach the stretch run. "We cant rely on that," DeRozan said of his teams second-half success, "because when we run into the top teams its going to be tough to try to make a comeback against those teams."  "So weve got to start a habit of that now," he continued, "even when were playing teams like Orlando so well be ready and we know what to expect when we play the good teams." Christian Kirk Jersey . However, it wasnt a problem on Monday night. Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for his 56th career shutout in the New York Islanders 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night. Benson Mayowa Jersey . Chan captured two silver medals at last months Sochi Winter Games — mens singles and the inaugural team event. But he doesnt have the urge to resume training to defend his world title when the event is held in Saitama, Japan, later this month. http://www.officialauthenticcardinalssho...ersey.html . The No. 5 Aztecs held Burton, the Mountain Wests leading scorer, to 11 points, 10 below his average, in beating the Wolf Pack 73-58 on Saturday night.ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Champ Bailey wont play in the Denver Broncos opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night because of a sprained left foot. The 15th-year pro was ruled out Wednesday. He hasnt practiced since getting hurt in a preseason game at Seattle on Aug. 17. Denver will start Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Baileys place alongside right cornerback Chris Harris with Tonyy Carter getting work at nickel. Benson Mayowa Cardinals Jersey. Although Bailey was beaten twice by Ravens receiver Torrey Smith in the playoffs, his absence for the "NFL Kickoff" may prove less critical because Joe Flacco is without his top two targets from last season in Anquan Boldin (trade) and Dennis Pitta (hip). Bailey plans to play against the New York Giants in Week 2. 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