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Петок, 22 Февруари 2019

TORONTO - In his brief 10-month stint with the Raptors, Rudy Gay averaged just under 20 points per contest, accounting for the bulk of Torontos offence while hitting some big, game-winning shots before he was whisked away to Sacramento. His tenure wont be remembered for any of that, rightly or wrongly, and the Kings forward has mostly come to terms with that. He wont be remembered for the shots he made. No, "Rudy the Raptor" - as Kings coach Mike Malone refers to Gays previous incarnation - will be remembered for the shots he missed. All 530 of them. Even Gay himself, given the opportunity to sugarcoat his shooting woes ahead of Fridays return to Toronto, wouldnt put lipstick on the pig that was his horrid field goal percentage. It was bad, and he knows it. Surrounded by the sizeable Toronto media army he left behind for small-market Sacramento following Kings practice on Thursday, Gay was asked if he feels slighted when hes been called inefficient. "I was inefficient when I was here," he admitted, to the surprise of those who may have expected him to dance around the obvious. "Im not anymore. I was when I was here." Fridays game will mark Gays first visit to Air Canada Centre since he was sent to the Kings, along with Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray, on Dec. 9 in exchange for Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes. He was acquired from Memphis less than a year earlier, a trade engineered by former Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo in the hopes of landing a star player that could dig the team out of its playoff hole and, in doing so, save his own skin. The experiment was short-lived. "He was put in a tough situation where he was looked on to be the saviour," coach Dwane Casey said of Gays time in Toronto. "Thats not his role as far as [the] type of guys we had. Hes a dynamic player, a big-time talent. He was brought here for the right reasons. It ended up turning into something that wasnt meant to be." After he and the Raptors closed out last season on a high note, the team opened with a record of 6-12 as Gay struggled, putting up some of the worst numbers of his eight-year career. "For whatever reason in Toronto he was only shooting 38 per cent, taking over 18 shots a game and everyone wanted to say he was the most inefficient player in the NBA," Malone said. "All I can base his play on is as a King. Hes been shooting the ball over 50 per cent, 20 points a night and hes a proven playmaker and rebounder as well." Nearly three months removed from his time in Toronto, Gay is enjoying a career resurgence as a member of the Kings. Hes scoring more points, taking three less shots per game while getting to the free throw line at a higher rate. He has shot 50 per cent or better in 23 of 37 games as a King, something he accomplished once in 18 contests with the Raptors this season. Whats responsible for his turnaround? It has a lot to do with the space occupied and the attention drawn by the Kings beast of a centre. "If you go back to his time in Memphis. when he had the luxury of playing with a very talented frontcourt in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. he was much more efficient with that line-up," Malone pointed out. "So we felt that he and DeMarcus (Cousins), especially the inside-outside combination, would be very tough to guard." With Gay, Cousins and breakout point guard Isaiah Thomas, the Kings are the NBAs only team that features three 20-point scorers. Although the record hasnt necessarily reflected it - Sacramento is 16-26 since the trade - that trio has co-existed better than expected. As a team, the Kings rank 12th in offensive efficiency, despite dropping to the bottom of league in assists. For a collection of reasons, many of which are probably too tough to explain or quantify, Gay has found a home in Sacramento and he seems to fit. Of course, he is not the only one with a new lease on life in the aftermath of the trade. The Raptors are now 27-14 without Gay in the line-up, jockeying for playoff position in the Eastern Conference as the Kings toil in the basement of West. Gay is genuinely happy for his old teammates, many of whom he considers close friends, but the Kings forward doesnt necessarily buy into the correlation between his departure and his former teams success. "We dont know if that would have happened if I were there, too," said the 27-year-old. "It happened early in the season. Nobody knows. Its one of those things that it has happened now, the trade happened, now theyre a playoff team. Of course, Id like to be a part of that, but Im in Sacramento now and I have to build this team." However, Raptors fans remember the missed shots, they remember the isolation-centric offence that torpedoed their teams overall watchability for the first month of the season, but, most of all, they remember the losses. In Gay, the Raptors got what they paid for and their inevitable break-up should not have come as too much of a surprise. He probably doesnt deserve to be booed when he returns to the ACC wearing visiting purple Friday night, but he will be and when he is, he wont be caught off guard. "I dont care," he said. "Im just going out there and doing my job. Honestly, I joke with these guys all of the time. I say, If you put two rims up in the kitchen, Ill go out and play. It really doesnt matter what happens, whos booing, whos cheering. It doesnt matter."Wholesale NFL Jerseys . Future Hall of Famer Ricky Ray is in his prime and back for a third season in double blue. The 34-year old was magnificent in 2013, throwing for just under 2,900 yards despite missing eight games, tossing an impressive 21 touchdowns against just two interceptions, completing 66 per cent of his passes in the process. Cheap Jerseys Fast Shipping . The seventh-ranked Berdych wants to focus on the ATP Tour after helping the Czechs beat the Netherlands in the first round. Seeking their third straight Davis Cup title, the Czechs will rely again on veteran Radek Stepanek.TORONTO - Dwight Buycks is not your typical NBA rookie. The lone first-year player on Torontos roster, Buycks has taken a different path than most of the leagues rookies, one that should afford him a greater appreciation of this opportunity he has chased so relentlessly. Buycks comes to the Raptors following an MVP season in the French league, a worthwhile detour for him after spending the year prior in the NBA development league and going undrafted in 2011. "My dream has always been to play in the NBA," said the 24-year-old guard after practice Tuesday. "So that was the route I had to take at the time and it wasnt a problem for me to take it." Choosing to go play overseas was a difficult decision for the former Marquette Golden Eagle and Milwaukee native. He had heard both pros and cons about making the move - an increasingly popular option for players on the cusp of the NBA - but knew it was the best way for him to get back on the radar. "Its always been something that was talked about," he remembered, "so when the time came [there] wasnt too much to think about." Still a young man, his basketball career had hit several unexpected roadblocks but his willingness to fight through them and adapt to his new surroundings allowed him to excel. "It definitely was a great year, my first full season overseas," said Buycks, who averaged 18.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists with Gravelines of the French Pro A league in 2012-13. "I got over there and we connected real good, the team, the players, the coaches, they put a lot of trust in me with the basketball and to lead them to win games." Many young players, and recently some veterans at the end of their celebrated careers, have headed overseas looking for an easy paycheque and a fast track path (back) to the NBA. Generally, it doesnt take long for those players to realize the experience, the brand of basketball and the culture change is far more than they bargained for. Buycks, on the other hand, committed himself to it, which allowed him to reap the benefits. "It definitely is a grind to go over there for that long a time," he admitted, specifically citing the food and general way of living being different from what he was used to. "When I went over there I made the choice to not go home. "I wanted to stay there the whole time, so for our little Christmas break I decided to stay there and not go home because I didnt want to get comfortable with being home and then have to go right back. So that was definitely a tough decision for me to make but I think it paid off." Buycks turned enough heads to score an invite to the Orlando Summer League with Oklahoma City, where he continued his strong play and ultimately received a guaranteed contract offer from Masai Ujiri and the Raptors. Averaging 7.0 points and 2.8 assists in four preseason games with Toronto, Buycks has been the recipient of significant praise from his new head coach. "He played well in Summer League, hes played well in training camp annd hes done a decent job in the exhibition games," Dwane Casey said of Buycks.dddddddddddd. "[Hes made] typical rookie mistakes but I dont know if there are any guards [taken] in the late first or second round [in this years draft] that are as good as Dwight." "For us it was a steal," he continued. "It was a good eye for his talent because he has speed and quickness you cant teach." Not surprisingly his work ethic has caught Caseys eye and his commitment to defence - something hes familiar with having played in a hard-nosed defensive system with Marquette - has helped him fit right in. With Kyle Lowry locked in as the starter, Buycks is competing with the more experienced D.J. Augustin for playing time as the back-up point guard. Both players bring different strengths to the table meaning, at least for now, this battle has all the makings of a platoon. "Its going to be a fluid back-up situation," Casey has stated, dependent on match-ups and who has the hot hand. Buycks would appear to be the underdog in this scenario given Augustins experience and past success but underestimate the reigning French league MVP at your own risk. Hes been overlooked before. "It wouldnt be a problem whatever my role is for the team," he said. "Im just trying to help the team win games anyway I can. Whether thats playing or not playing Im going to help these guys off the court when Im not in the game." Preseason schedule, a double-edged sword After playing four exhibition games last week the Raptors have just one on the schedule for this week, a Wednesday affair with Kelly Olynyk and the Boston Celtics at the Air Canada Centre. You can hear it live on TSN 1050 Radio at 7pm et. For Casey and the coaching staff this is both a blessing and a curse, as the team will get the additional practice time theyve desired but have a limited opportunity to implement their work in-game. "Its a double-edged sword," Casey said. "So were going to spend our time on the practice floor working on our timing, defensive rotations and all those things but then too we want to see those things executed in the game. Youd like to have it where it wasnt so spread out but it is what it is." Just about halfway through training camp, the team has reached a juncture where maintaining focus is one of the biggest challenges with everyone looking ahead to the regular season. "Today I had to ramp them up a couple times but thats normal NBA training camp," Casey said after practice Tuesday. "But the good teams, the teams that are serious about winning maintain that focus, that edge." "Youve got to take advantage of preseason to get out all the kinks, all the rustiness, all the things youve been working on in training camp," DeMar DeRozan acknowledged, having been though this process four times before, going into his fifth year. "For a player like me, Im ready to play now, but were just going to use these last couple games to get ready." ' ' '