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    13. November 2017 02:30:47 CET

    TORONTO - After falling victim to slow starts in each of the last two games, both losses, Raptors coach Dwane Casey hinted change could be on the way. Michael Jordan Jersey . "Weve got to look at our starts," said Casey, the afternoon following a 90-83 defeat to Miami, one in which his team fell behind by nine in the first quarter. "Thats the second game in a row thats happened." Toronto allowed the Heat to shoot 52 per cent in the first quarter four days after the Nets shot 60 per cent in the opening 12 minutes of Tuesdays loss. Despite a second-half push, the Raptors failed to dig themselves out of an early-game hole in both contests, prompting Casey to suggest that a change could be imminent as soon as Sundays game, at home to Denver, or in Oakland against Golden State on Tuesday. "Whether its a lineup change or a change in personality," he continued, "weve got to look at something to start the game because we cant expend that much mental and physical energy to fight against all the teams were going against, and thats what its been the last couple of weeks." The Raptors - who used 22 different starting lineups last season, sixth most in the NBA - have started the same unit in each game to begin the campaign. After experiencing some success on the floor together - specifically on the defensive end - towards the end of last season, the group of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas has underachieved through 15 contests this year. That unit - the Raptors most used, both this season and last - outscored opponents by 85 points when they were in the game together a year ago, starting 21 of the teams final 25 games. They ranked third in the NBA in defensive efficiency among five-man units that played a minimum of 300 minutes together (only the Spurs and Grizzlies starting fives had a better defensive rating). This season they are a minus-35, per NBA.com/stats, and are allowing opponents to shoot 52 per cent from the field. They have shared the floor for 229 minutes while the teams second most-utilized unit - Lowry, DeRozan, Gay and Johnson with Landry Fields - has played just 34 minutes together. As a team, Toronto has been least effective in the first and third quarters, with the starters playing the bulk of the teams minutes. The Raptors are a plus-three in the opening frame and minus-39 in the third. Their best quarter has been the fourth - a period in which the starters have rarely played together - where their plus-45 mark is third best in the NBA (behind only the Pacers and Thunder). "I think you have to look at the chemistry, skill set, what they bring to the table, a little bit of everything," Casey said of a possible change. "I dont question our guys fight. Its not that were not playing hard, its just not meshing together with the first group." Two starters who could be on the hot seat are Johnson and Valanciunas. Both frontcourt players logged fewer than 18 minutes in Fridays loss and have failed to meet lofty pre-season expectations overall. Tyler Hansbrough, who played 25 minutes and helped turn the game around in the second half with his physicality, earned praise from his coach following Saturdays practice and could be a candidate to replace either Johnson or Valanciunas in the event Casey decides to make a change. "It may be just a matter of time to let it go," Casey said. "Were still searching, like a lot of teams in the league are doing. Were not panicking but weve got to make sure we understand and we get the right group together." Toronto hosts the Denver Nuggets Sunday afternoon, concluding a season-high four-game homestand before heading out west next week. Markieff Morris Jersey . UEFA said Wednesday that the champions of England and France only have to include five home-trained players in their 21-man squads next season instead of the expected eight. Only one of the five players needs to be trained by the club itself. Gilbert Arenas Jersey . Bradwell was scheduled to become a free agent Tuesday. Born and raised in Toronto, Bradwell is entering his sixth CFL season, with all six played for his hometown Argonauts.PITTSBURGH -- Ahead in the count 2-0 with the game tied in the ninth inning, Todd Frazier figured there was only one type of pitch he was going to see. "I know he didnt want to walk me and put a guy on base," Frazier said. "I was looking to get a fastball I could handle and, fortunately, I was able to connect." Fraziers leadoff homer lifted Cincinnati to a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night after the Reds bullpen blew a three-run lead. Fraziers team-leading 16th home run to centre field came off closer Jason Grilli (0-2) and gave the Reds their fifth win in six games. Cincinnati (34-35) also got within one game of .500 on its ninth try. "You cant fall behind the first guy you face, especially in a tie ballgame," Grilli said. "He dives over the plate. ... It just didnt work out." Frazier leads NL third basemen in homers, extra-base hits (31) and slugging percentage (.524). "Hes very confident now that he can be a major league player," Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said of Frazier, who is in his fourth season. "Hes been able to put home runs, RBIs, run production into one package." Billy Hamilton had three hits and two stolen bases for the Reds, while Joey Votto had two hits and three RBIs. Frazier, Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick added two hits apiece. Hamilton is 8 for 13 in his last three games. Cincinnati is 5-2 and averaging 5.3 runs per game since Votto was activated from the disabled list after missing three weeks with a quadriceps strain. Logan Ondrusek (2-2) got four outs for the win. Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save, getting Clint Barmes to fly out to the left-field fence with two runners on to end the game. "It was an interesting game in a lot of ways," Price said. "Both teams had their moments and we had to have some good things happen to win the game. It would have been nice if it were a little easier on the stomach." Prices stomach was certainly churning when left fielder Chris& Heisey, a late-inning defensive replacement for Ludwick, had to race to the fence to catch Barmes drive. Juwan Howard Jersey. "It carried farther than I thought," Heisey said. "Fortunately, it stayed in the park." Josh Harrison matched a career high with four hits for the Pirates. He drove in two runs. Starling Marte, Ike Davis and Jordy Mercer added two hits apiece. Andrew McCutchen extended his hitting streak to 12 games but came up short of becoming the first Pittsburgh player to have multiple hits in nine straight games since Rennie Stennett in 1971. Gregory Polanco became the first Pirates player to have a hit in each of the first seven games of his career since Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente in 1955. The Pirates used a three-run seventh inning to tie the score at 5 on RBI singles by Davis, Russell Martin and Harrison. Cincinnati starter Johnny Cuetos hard luck continued as he gave up two runs in six innings of a no-decision. Cueto scattered seven hits and four walks, but the bullpen failed to hold a three-run lead for him. Despite a sparkling 1.92 ERA, Cueto is 6-5 through 15 starts. In two starts against the Pirates in April, he allowed one run and six hits in 18 innings. Pittsburghs Brandon Cumpton gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings after winning his previous two starts. NOTES: Pittsburgh 2B Neil Walker took batting practice and fielded grounders before the game for the first time since undergoing an appendectomy June 9. He is optimistic he will be ready to be activated from the disabled list June 24, the first day he is eligible. ... Pirates LHP Francisco Liriano is scheduled to play catch Thursday for the first time since sustaining a strained left oblique June 10 and going on the DL. ... Phillips string of 43 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout, the longest active streak in the majors, ended when he fanned in the seventh. ... Cincinnati RHP Alfredo Simon (9-3, 2.95 ERA) opposes Pirates RHP Edinson Volquez (4-5, 3.89) on Wednesday night. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '