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TORONTO - Amir Johnson has never been one to sulk over playing time. [url=

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TORONTO - Amir Johnson has never been one to sulk over playing time. Vince Carter Jersey . Whether starting or coming off the bench, Johnson has always accepted his role in stride, part of whats made him the Raptors unsung hero for the better part of the last three seasons. His body language spoke louder than words on Sunday, both before and after his teams 112-98 loss to the Nuggets, their third straight defeat at home. An hour before tip-off a subdued Johnson sat alone in front of his locker. Playing a racing game on his phone - with the volume turned up - he knew what everyone else would find out 50 minutes later. For the first time since Mar. 23, a span of 27 games, Johnson would come off the bench with Tyler Hansbrough replacing him in the Raptors starting five. Dwane Casey had hinted a lineup change could be on its way after practice the day prior but the Raptors coach kept his cards close to his vest during his pre-game availability, with the Nuggets withholding the status of starter Kenneth Faried. Following a couple slow starts in back-to-back defeats at home, the shakeup was not a surprise. "Weve been talking about it, a few days back," Johnson said, despondent after the game. A man of few words. While Johnson was held scoreless in 14 uninspiring minutes as a reserve - an uncharacteristic minus-16 on the afternoon - the change seemed to spark his team out of the gate. Along with Jonas Valanciunas, Hansbrough set the tone for the Raptors, who took an early 15-point lead thanks in large part to Torontos energy and physical work on the boards. However, that lead shrunk in a hurry as both teams went to their second units. The Nuggets - a team assembled, at least in part by Raptors GM Masai Ujiri - dominated the final 36 minutes with their superior depth, exploiting the deficiencies in Torontos shallow roster. "Masai did too good of a job of putting that group together," Casey joked before the game. The Nuggets and their new coach Brian Shaw went 10 players deep, six of them scoring in double figures, including four off the bench. "Our bench has got to give us something," Casey maintained after Denvers subs scored 72 points, an opponent record against the Raptors. "Our (starters) cant play for 48 (minutes), so weve got to get production from the bench." "The guys coming in have got to develop a toughness, a resilience of getting stops and it starts on the defensive end. Thats where our problems started in the second half. They shot well but we didnt make them feel us and thats the difference." As a team, the Nuggets shot 65 per cent in the second half and their bench went 17-for-23 from the field. Johnson - now a member of the Raptors second unit that managed just 16 points on Sunday - has not been himself this season, to his own admission. "No, Ive been on and off," he responded, asked if his early-season play has met his standards. "I mean thats why we made the change in the lineup," Casey said in agreement. "Just to give us some energy, give (Johnson) a chance to recharge a little bit, refresh a little bit, refocus a little bit." Even after Sundays game, Johnson is a plus-20 this season - the teams second best mark - shooting 54 per cent from the field, tops on the Raptors. Still, his effort and consequently his impact has been inconsistent following a career season last year. At times Casey has questioned the forwards focus. "Everybodys been through some rough times," said Rudy Gay, who had a team-high 23 points on 10-of-23 shooting in the loss. "Ive been through it… and hes going through it now." "Everybodys going to go through it at some point in their career and this is the time hes been going through it. But I have all confidence in Amir. Hes going to be great, hes going to be the same Amir we know he can be." Frustration boiling over The Raptors have now dropped three straight and five of their last six games at home, prompting a sensible question; is frustration beginning to get the best of them? "It should hurt," Casey insisted. "But the teams that we played against, if you looked at the schedule before the season started, how many of them would we have been favoured (in)? But thats no excuse because we put ourselves in a position (to win) in each of these games and even in this one in the first half. I dont see frustration." DeMar DeRozan didnt mince words, expressing his frustration after the loss. "Me personally, Im frustrated period," he exclaimed after scoring 17 points in defeat. "Just losing, I mean I hate it, I hate it with a passion." "I mean were right there. Were the ones doing it. Nobodys making us miss our coverages or nothing like that. Its on us. We show it in spurts, weve just got to be more consistent with it." Rare third-quarter touches for Valanciunas Coming into Sundays contest, Jonas Valanciunas had scored 71 points on 57 shots in first quarters this season, tallying just 60 points on 58 shots in the other three quarters combined. The sophomore was utilized more consistently against a smaller Denver team and he responded with one of his better performances of the campaign. "I thought he had a (good) matchup with those guys so we made it a focal point of getting him the ball in the paint," Casey said of Valanciunas, who had a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes of action. "He did an excellent job of getting to where he wanted to go." Valanciunas had four points on seven shots in the first frame, a quarter the Raptors won, also taking seven shots and scoring eight in the third, their next best quarter. As Toronto got steamrolled in the fourth, Valanciunas attempted just one field goal in over nine minutes. If the Raptors hope to diversify their offence, which has largely been centred on Gay and DeRozan, they must find ways to incorporate their centre more consistently, a task thats easier said than done given the teams personnel and the sophomores continued development on both ends of the floor. Up next After winning one of four games during their season-long home stand, the Raptors travel west next week. Their first stop is in Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors. DeMar DeRozan Jersey . PETERSBURG, Florida – Its been almost seven years since the Blue Jays last won a series at Tropicana Field. OG Anunoby Jersey . The 24-year-old Raley was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA for Chicago in his first two career starts after being called up from Iowa on Aug. 7. He was optioned to Iowa on Monday after losing 3-0 to Cincinnati in Chicago on Sunday. . Philbin said Thursday he wants players to treat one another with civility and he wont tolerate anything less. In taking questions for the first time since Ted Wells released his report into the bullying scandal that rocked the league, Philbin made it clear things would be cleaned up.EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This Super Bowl has just about everything a fan, a player, a coach -- and certainly a league -- could ask for. Denvers record-setting offence versus Seattles relentlessly stingy defence. Coaches who actually smile and think football should be fun. A wintry setting, and the best two teams in the NFL. You can watch coverage of the game beginning on CTV at 2pm et/ 11am pt. Also take part in TSN.cas Super Bowl live chat during the game starting at 6:30pm et/3:30 pt. "Its very special to be here," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Sundays big game. "Look at this event that our players are having to take part of. The game, the matchup, the culmination of the season, all of this is just extraordinary." This Super Bowl could also have a profound effect on the immediate future of pro football. It may be a referendum on whether the NFLs showpiece event should ever again be held outdoors in a cold-weather city. But more likely is it being a strong indicator about the future of the quarterback position. The game will feature the classic pocket passer emblematic of the old guard -- Denvers veteran Peyton Manning, who has had an extraordinarily prolific season. Against him is Seattles quick-footed, quick-witted scrambler Russell Wilson, who represents the new guard along with the likes of Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, even Andrew Luck. Seattles miserly defence wants to force Manning into uncomfortable territory, which means anywhere outside the passing pocket. Denvers defence will be intent on giving Wilson a taste of claustrophobia by keeping him hemmed in the pocket. Both QB approaches work for their offences, or else these two teams wouldnt each be 15-3, top seeds in their conferences and facing off for the championship. The quarterback differences -- aside from age, time of service in the pros, or even their height -- Manning is about 15 centimetres (six inches) taller than Wilson -- make this Super Bowl even more intriguing. There will always be a place in anyones starting lineup for a Peyton Manning, who deserves strong consideration in the debate about the greatest quarterback in history, regardless of whether he adds a second Super BBowl ring on Sunday. Delon Wright Jersey. Teams construct their offence around a talent like that. Whether most teams will stick with convention or choose mobile, creative and elusive passers such as Wilson wont be decided by who wins at the Meadowlands. But it could play a significant role. "As a talent evaluator for college and even free agency, the toughest thing to evaluate is process," Broncos quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp said. "Can the guy process in the pocket during the heat of battle?" Everyone knows Manning has had that skill throughout his career, and Wilson has provided strong evidence in his two NFL seasons that hes got it, too. "Peyton might be one of the best Ive ever been around that can process, Okay, Ive got these tools to use, and in 10 seconds Ive got to make a decision, and execute in less than four," Knapp added. Wilsons multi-faceted abilities on the field might differ in method to Mannings, but Carroll sees many similarities off the playing field. "Hes an incredible competitor in every way," Carroll said of his quarterback, who at 25 is 12 years younger than Manning. "In preparation, in game day, hes the epitome of what you want in your competitor. Hes got tremendous work habits. Hes got extraordinary athleticism. Hes got a general all-around savvy that allows him to make great decisions under pressure. "Hes extremely confident, too, so no matter what is going on, hes not going to waver in his focus and ability to handle things." Manning believes elements of all styles will always be in demand. "I could describe the perfect quarterback. Take a little piece of everybody," he said. "Take John Elways arm, Dan Marinos release, maybe Troy Aikmans dropback, Brett Favres scrambling ability, Joe Montanas two-minute poise and, naturally, my speed." After the laughter stopped, Manning continued: "I could take a piece of everyone, of some of my favourite quarterbacks, and I could take 30 traits from different guys, and put them in that perfect quarterback." But will that perfect QB in years to come feature more of Manning and his mould or of Wilson and his ilk? Sundays game could provide a glimpse into that future. 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