there will be some nights when we have bad nights. Last night

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there will be some nights when we have bad nights. Last night

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NEW ORLEANS - When DeMar DeRozan found out he had made his first NBA All-Star Game two weeks ago, receiving the news on the team plane upon landing in Denver, he wasnt surprised but instead described the feeling as a surreal one. Trent Murphy Redskins Jersey . Now - 48 hours before the main event - the Raptors leading scorer is soaking it all in, still a little starry-eyed, mindful of how far he has come and what its taken to get him to this point. "Its starting to become real now," he told TSN.ca Friday afternoon, as the All-Star participants gathered in the cavernous ballroom of a New Orleans hotel for their annual media day circus.  "I think when I really go out there, put the jersey on and head to the arena Sunday evening [it will really hit me]." The 24-year-old DeRozan does not have to look very far to find mementos of his NBA journey, the closest one will be sitting adjacent to him on the Eastern Conference teams bench when the game tips off on Sunday. Heat forward and fellow All-Star reserve Chris Bosh was one of the first to pull DeRozan aside upon arrival in New Orleans this weekend. Bosh - the Raptors last representative in the All-Star Game, four years ago - left for Miami following DeRozans rookie season. He, as much as anyone, can attest to DeRozans growth as a player and the message he had for his former teammate was just that. "Im proud of you," he told the Raptors guard. "It means a lot," DeRozan said of Boshs kind words. "We were just laughing because I remember being the only rookie, 19-years-old on the Raptors, him being a star and seeing all the things he was going through when he was [in Toronto] and how he had to carry the team on his back." "After he left I had to step up and learn. Its just crazy, we were laughing at how fast time flies. It seems like yesterday I was that rookie who wouldnt shoot the ball and passed it to Chris every time." There was pressure on DeRozan to contribute right out of the gate, starting 65 games - most of them alongside Bosh - as a rookie in Toronto. He was, to his own admission, a deer in the NBA headlights. He attempted fewer than seven shots per game - which more than doubled in his second year, without Bosh in the lineup - yet averaged less than an assist in over 21 minutes a night. At the time, becoming an All-Star was not even on his radar, his focus was self-preservation and proving his worth as an NBA player. "Youre always stuck in the moment," he remembered. "You stay on course with your everyday tasks and you work towards something like this, you just work every single day. I knew if I just stay consistent, stay focused and didnt get down on myself too much I knew I had a chance." Five seasons later - one year removed from signing a long-term contract extension - his work ethic has not wavered, if anything its gotten stronger, more relentless. "Im proud of DeMar," said Terrence Ross, who has become a protégé of DeRozans. "Hes put in so much work. To see him here is like, man, I wish we could give him more for all hes done. Im just happy hes here getting a chance to prove to the world what he can do." Now that hes here, now that hes come this far he knows not to take it for granted. DeRozan - who is tied for fourth in the league in minutes played, also nursing an ankle injury - could have used the time off but youll never get him to admit it. Hes honoured to be representing the third-place, division-leading Raptors on the world stage. He was caught off guard when his agent called to deliver the leagues invitation to participate in Saturdays Skills Challenge, an event usually reserved for point guards, one thats out of his comfort zone. Originally he declined but it didnt take much prodding to convince him to change his mind. "Everybody doesnt get a chance to be a part of All-Star Weekend," he said when he was announced as a participant last week. "The big thing for me is to go out there and have fun. I think it will be cool to go out there and represent my team as much as I can and you never know, I might mess around and win it." DeRozans attitude is a refreshing change of pace from many of todays star players who decline invitations to participate in All-Star Saturday Night each year to preserve their energy, prevent injury or simply because they feel like theyve graduated from it. Sure, LeBron still wont dunk but perhaps times are changing after all. For the first time since 1988 three All-Stars will compete in the Slam Dunk contest, one of them, Damian Lillard will participate in all five major events this weekend. His rationale is on par with DeRozans. "Im happy Im really a part of the weekend," said Lillard, another first-time All-Star. "Ive gotten great reception from the fans. Fans are excited about having someone who is participating in the All-Star Game being in all the events." DeRozan is considered a long shot to defeat Lillard, the reigning champion, in Saturdays Skills Challenge but hes not putting too much pressure on himself. For him, the weekend is all about embracing a new opportunity, his first real All-Star opportunity. Davante Adams Packers Jersey . Jacob Jacques, Andrew Ryan and Jonathan Drouin also scored for Halifax (37-18-3), who outshot the Islanders 40-26. Kevin Darveau stopped 25 shots. Bradley Kennedy had the lone goal for Charlottetown (18-33-5), which has nine losses in its last 10 games. Marcus Smith Eagles Jersey . The Milwaukee Bucks found out they were being sold. It turned out to be a big night for two teams headed in different directions with the regular season coming to a close. AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Dwight Howard vs. Andre Drummond was a mismatch from the start -- so it didnt really matter how many key players were missing for the Houston Rockets. Howard had 35 points and 19 rebounds, leading the short-handed Rockets to a 114-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Howard dominated Drummond, Detroits promising 20-year-old big man, and helped Houston control the game despite the absence of star guard James Harden, who was out with a sprained right ankle. "I love Andre -- the way hes been playing this year," Howard said. "Hes 20 years old, and he doesnt back down from any challenge, and I love that about him. Hes going to continue to get better." But Drummond looked overmatched against Howard, who ended up with his highest-scoring game since joining the Rockets in the off-season. Howard went 13 of 18 from the field, while Drummond managed only nine points at the other end. "At the end I thanked him for the lesson," Drummond said. "He said, Any time." The Rockets also were without Jeremy Lin, who has been bothered by back spasms, and they lost guard Patrick Beverley to a fractured right hand. Josh Smith scored 19 points for the Pistons. Detroit blew a 20-point lead and allowed 72 points in the second half of Fridays loss to Charlotte. The Pistons again struggled defensively against Houston, especially against Howard. "Dwight was unbelievable tonight. He completely dominated the game," Houstons Chandler Parsons said. "Im a big fan of Andre Drummond. I think hes got a lot of potential, and hes a really good player, but I mean, Dwight just dominated tonight." Howard scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the first half. Houston led 61-53 at the half and 86-71 after three quarters. Drummonds tip-in made it 92-82, but Howard responded by simply backing Drummond down again for two more points.. Tavon Rooks Saints Jersey. Francisco Garcias 3-pointer put the Rockets up 97-84. The Pistons shot 1 of 12 from 3-point range, and they also missed a number of shots inside from point-blank range. Houston lost Friday at Indiana in a 114-81 rout, but the Rockets overcame all their injury problems against Detroit. "We just have to go out there and play," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "It does not matter how many guys we have. It does not matter who is playing or who is not playing. We just have to go there and play together and play with some toughness. Toughness and togetherness overcomes a lot of stuff." Parsons scored 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting for Houston, and Garcia added 16 points starting in place of Harden. Omri Casspi and Aaron Brooks had seven assists each off the bench. "I thought Aaron had a good game tonight," McHale said. "I thought Patrick really started off well. We are not going to have Patrick for a while, which means that Jeremy is due to come back." Brandon Jennings had eight points and 10 assists for Detroit before being ejected with 2:10 to go. After a foul call, a clearly frustrated Jennings tossed the ball away for one technical foul, then earned another for arguing. "We are still trying to get better, night in and night out," Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. "As I said to our players, there will be some nights when we will have good nights, there will be some nights when we have bad nights. Last night and tonight was not our best for sure." NOTES: Detroit was averaging an NBA-best 51.5 points in the paint coming into the game, while Houston was third at 49.2. The teams finished tied at 62 in that department Saturday. ... The Rockets began the fourth quarter by going 8 of 9 from the field. ... Howard scored 33 points in a Nov. 20 loss at Dallas. ... Beverley scored 10 points in the first half but didnt play in the second. ' ' '

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