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TORONTO - For the first time in three days, the most turbulent 72 hours of his life,
TORONTO - For the first time in three days, the most turbulent 72 hours of his life, Jonas Valanciunas was able to find an escape, an outlet for his ranging emotions. "Its been a rough couple days," the Raptors centre admitted following Wednesdays game, speaking with the media for the first time since he was arrested for drunk driving earlier this week. He was unable to address the incident directly, as he has yet to meet with his lawyers. "I found the power, found the energy to come out [and] fight," he continued. "I felt really good [because of the] fan support, thank you to them. That felt great, because everybody supported me. I say sorry and [am] learning. Ill be better." Valanciunas wasnt sure how he would be received by the teams fans, feeling he had disappointed them, just as they did not know what to expect from him, returning to the court in the aftermath of Monday mornings events. "Honestly, he was going to play like trash or he was going to play amazing," said Kyle Lowry after Torontos 125-114 win over the 76ers. "He played amazing, like we expected." The 21-year-old sophomore would go on to score a career-best 26 points to go along with 12 rebounds, hitting 10 of his 14 shots in 37 minutes of action. Once the ball was thrown up, and for the two and a half hours that followed, the only thing that was on his mind was the task at hand. "Its a tough situation for him to handle, to be going through," Lowry added, "but this is our sanctuary: basketball. We get a chance to be away from everything. Basketball is like our space, our secret spot and thats where guys can release a lot of energy and intensity." Scoring the first four points of the game, Valanciunas came out with a fire, a purpose and an air of confidence. He has been playing some of the best basketball of his career and those off-court distractions could not derail him. Leading the team with 23 double-doubles after recording just eight a year ago, Valanciunas has played 30 or more minutes and scored in double figures in eight straight games, matching a season-high. The biggest difference has been his comfort level and self-assurance, according to his teammates. The game has slowed down for him, hes playing with patience and most importantly hes not getting down on himself. "[Hes] much more aggressive, much hungrier," said Lowry. "He wants the ball. Tonight he was literally yelling at me to give him the ball." "He came up big," DeMar DeRozan stated. "That just shows you hes not letting everything else affect him, everything thats going on or the situation that happened. Hes just going out and playing. He did what he did, its over with, he apologized to us and he understands whats at stake and that we need him." His big night couldnt have come at a better time. Valanciunas has some work to do. He knows this. On top of learning from his error in judgment, hell have to win back the fans he let down. Wednesdays performance was the first step in turning the page. Lowrys return Although Lowry eased into his return from a three-game absence, sidelined with a bruised left kneecap, he more than made his presence felt when his team needed him most. The Raptors starting point guard recorded four assists before attempting his first shot late in the opening quarter. By the second half he was up to his old tricks. Lowry scored 19 of his game-high 29 points in the final 24 minutes, including 10 in the fourth quarter. "I was happy to be back there with my teammates, to be honest," he said after the game. "When you miss games you feel like youre letting your team down but it was great to be back out there with the fellas." Prior to the game, Dwane Casey indicated there would be no restriction on Lowrys usage and sure enough he played the entire first quarter and logged 38 minutes on the night. "[The week off] definitely helped my body rest but a week doesnt do anything," Lowry said. "Its going to take two months for me to actually be normally healthy again." Amir Johnson got another precautionary night off, missing his third straight contest with a lingering right ankle injury, though he could have played if necessary and shouldnt be out much longer. Nearing division title With Torontos victory and the Nets loss in Orlando, the Raptors are now one win - or Brooklyn defeat - away from clinching their second division title in franchise history. They can wrap up the Atlantic crown while also matching a franchise-record 47th win of the season in front of their home crowd on Friday when they host the Knicks. The stat The Raptors are a perfect 10-0 in games without at least one of their five starters (Lowry, DeRozan, Johnson, Valanciunas or Terrence Ross) this season. The quote "Our guys see the computers, they see the standings and the records but we cant play that way," Casey said of the teams defensive slippage, after allowing the lowly 76ers to score 114 points on 52 per cent shooting. "I just told them that weve got to pick our defence up and not have the mental letdowns that were having defensively. Its nothing that we havent seen before or any new trick plays. Its just one-on-one defence, blow-bys, our feet in the sand. There is a slippage." Cameron Wake Jersey . Catch all the action on TSN2 and TSN GO at 9pm et/6pm pt. San Antonio took the series lead Monday night with a 122-105 home victory in Game 1. The Spurs used a balanced scoring attack and clamped down defensively late in the third quarter to claim the win. Mark Clayton Jersey . - Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin is now a free agent. http://www.officialmiamidolphinsfootball.com/authentic-akeem-spence-jersey-womens. -- First baseman Carlos Pena and outfielder Brennan Boesch have signed minor league deals with the Los Angeles Angels. Bobby McCain Jersey . In the other Group A game, the Czech Republic stunned Canada, 5-4 in a shootout. Dominik Simon scored the deciding goal in the tiebreaker. The United States scored its first three goals on power plays. "Overall, I love to see the power-play goals we were able to get tonight," said U. Xavien Howard Jersey .The law passed on Friday, in a 128-62 vote in the lower chamber of parliament, was prompted by FIFA bribery scandals in recent years.Switzerland-based sports leaders such as FIFA President Sepp Blatter and IOC President Thomas Bach are now classed as politically exposed persons in wider legislation covering money-laundering.LAS VEGAS, Nev. - When Robbie Lawler got a second shot at the UFC welterweight title, he was determined to finish with a flourish.Deep in the 25th minute against Johny Hendricks, Lawler unleashed wild flurries of strikes. He kept pursuing the champion even after the bell.A few minutes later, Lawler celebrated his remarkable mid-career resurgence with a belt around his waist.Lawler won the 170-pound title at UFC 181 on Saturday night, claiming a split decision over Hendricks in their rematch.I thought I needed to get in his face, Lawler said. Thats how we fight in the UFC. Thats how we fight championship fights.Anthony Pettis also stopped Gilbert Melendez with a guillotine choke 1:53 into the second round to defend his UFC lightweight title at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.The 32-year-old Lawler (25-10) earned his decision with a dogged five-round effort against Hendricks (16-3), who won the vacant belt by unanimous decision in their first bout in March. Lawler faded late in that fight, while Hendricks finished strong.In the rematch, Lawler turned it around.My coaches just wanted me to go out there and finish strong and do what I do in the gym, and I was able to do that, Lawler said. It means a lot to me because of all the people around me. That isnt just me out there. There was a lot of time and effort from the people around me to get where I am today, and this is their victory too.While Hendricks and Lawler didnt match the theatrics and brutality of their spectacular first fight, in which Hendricks claimed Georges St. Pierres vacated belt despite a torn biceps muscle, Lawler got off to an impressive start in the rematch.He had Hendricks on the defensive for much of the first round, and he finished with a strong fifth, delivering those enormous shots in the final seconds to bring the crowd to its feet.Hendricks controlled long stretches of the middle rounds with tactics and smart strikes while Lawler waned, but the champ appeared to coast to the finish of the final two rounds, perhaps swaying the judges in Lawlers favour.I just didnt fight, Hendricks said. Look at the fourth and fifth round. I didnt come out and fight like I normally do. I didnt stay light on my feet like I should have.Two judges scored the bout for Lawler, 49-46 and 48-47, while the third favoured Hendricks, 48-47. The Associated Press scored it 48-47 for Lawler.While Hendricks injury sidelined him through the summer, Lawler stayed hard at work with impressive victories over Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown, earning his rematch.Lawwler was once best known for failing to reach the heights suggested by his talent, losing five of eight fights in the Strikeforce promotion before rejoining the UFC in early 2013.dddddddddddd. The former prodigy has realized his potential on MMAs biggest stage, becoming the first former Strikeforce fighter to win a UFC title with six wins in his last seven bouts.The fighters seem headed to a third bout, but Canadian No. 2 contender Rory MacDonald has been promised the next welterweight title shot.I thought it was a great fight, I scored it Robbie three rounds to two, said MacDonald, who is from Kelowna, B.C., and trains out of Montreal. Im very excited to fight him next, Ill be very focused and Ill be ready. Ive been hearing that the fight will be in Canada and thatd be great if it was. Id love it if it were in British Columbia, but Id be happy with anywhere up there.Lawler and Hendricks both said they would accept whatever the UFC decided.I cant wait to get back home to my family, Lawler said. Its been a long year. Ive been on the grind, camp to camp, just striving to be champion, to get back to this moment.Pettis (18-2) was impressive in his first title defence, finishing Melendez (22-4) for the first time in the veteran Strikeforce champions career.After Melendez largely controlled Pettis against the cage in the first round, Pettis surprised him with a damaging front kick early in the second. Pettis then defended Melendezs takedown attempt and locked in the choke, getting a quick submission to end his first fight in 16 months.I know how good I am, but a lot of people were questioning how good I am, Pettis said. This fight went a little bit longer, so you got to see a little more.Before the title bouts, heavyweight Todd Duffee celebrated his 29th birthday by stopping Anthony Hamilton just 33 seconds in with a crushing right hand. Heavyweight Travis Browne then stopped Brendan Schaub on punches with 10 seconds left in their opening round.Josh Samman delivered the best finish of an entertaining undercard, knocking out Eddie Gordon with a spectacular head kick in the second round. Samman, who had been dominated on the ground beforehand, dedicated the win to his girlfriend, Hailey Bevis, who died in a car accident last year.Also on the undercard, Urijah Faber choked out Francisco Rivera in the second round shortly after poking Rivera in the eye. Faber, who got booed after replays of the apparently inadvertent eye-poke, is 11-6 over the last six years, with every loss in a title fight. 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