Birds of prey think they are headed in the right direction

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Panic doesn’t come easy with these Toronto Raptors, and maybe that’s a good thing.

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The team has dropped three of their last four, including two lackluster tries last week in New Orleans and Brooklyn.

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There was a modest upswing on Saturday with a win over the undermanned Orlando Magic and then another missed opportunity on Monday when a road-weary Boston Celtics club smashed a starter, beat its sixth man and still lacked the starting center this season still have to play. played a dominant quarter and left town with the win.

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Toronto’s top shooter Fred VanVleet hasn’t struggled like he does since his rookie year, shooting just 25.5% in his last four games. From the three-point country, he shoots just under 18% in the same period.

Under normal circumstances with this type of team run and VanVleet issues, panic could break out, but none of that is currently happening in the team framework.

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Twitter and social media are handling the scenario as expected, but within the team the view is of incremental progress.

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“I don’t know exactly where we are right now – but I think going into Monday’s game we were two games ahead of where we were a year ago,” said head coach Nick Nurse. “I know it doesn’t feel like that to anyone because maybe the expectations are that much higher or whatever, but I would say we’re really on the right track. We’re making some progress. We had and still have a lot of influence guys out there. We had a tough year in terms of injuries. So I think on the one hand you can look at it and say we’re fine. We’re holding on here with a lot of tough breaks and if we just hold on and improve a little bit we’re going to take control and be really hard to beat.”

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Whether it’s nurse speaking or VanVleet or 16-year-old veterinarian Thad Young, the message is consistent.

It’s a good team with a lot of talent and at the moment, maybe because of all the injuries and the revolving door of the line-ups, things are a bit out of whack.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” said VanVleet. “Again we’ve had a tough stretch of guys who’ve been in and out and unhealthy and on a tough schedule and now we’re coming back and everyone, you know, we’re trying to figure out how it’s all going to be together.

“Well, it’s early man, we still have a long way to go. It’s a long season and I’m confident that at some point we will prove to be who we think we are and patience is easier said than done. So at the moment it sucks sometimes, but you just have to trust the bigger picture.”

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As for his personal shooting battles, VanVleet has absolutely no concerns that they will last very long.

That’s the kind of confidence that only someone who knows their craft and what they’ve put into it can have. VanVleet seemed almost amused by the concern and the type of questioning he was receiving regarding his current issues.

“It’s just one of those things, they’re not going in now and I just need a spark to flip it,” VanVleet said Tuesday. “I’m not really worried about that. Apparently no one wants them to go in more than me, trust me. But that’s how it is sometimes. You just can’t go too high or too low with it. Just keep working and try to find ways to get better.”

VanVleet admits teams are paying a little more attention to him these days and that’s forcing him to seek points in ways that might not be his first pick.

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“Yes. I mean, there’s a lot going on,” said VanVleet. “I mean, there’s a lot going on across the board. I’m not really going to go through the list with you guys, I’ll just play better and then you’ll have better talking points.

“But there are definitely a lot of reasons for the situation I’m in,” he said. “I will keep working, be professional and give everything I have when I go out there. Hopefully I’ll turn it around soon.”

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LAKERS COME IN HOT

In the first month of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers were the laughing stock of the league.

The vaunted Lakers lost 10 of the first 12 they played. Since then, they’ve won eight of the last 10 and turned the season’s script around thanks in large part to Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

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One of the two multiple All-Stars has led the Lakers to within three goals in every game this season.

Davis himself scored 99 points in just the two games leading up to yesterday’s contest in Cleveland.

James has reached 57 in the last two wins combined.

Russell Westbrook has found and embraced a home in the second unit, and the Lakers are better because of that.

Perhaps the schedule will catch up with the Lakers Wednesday, which will be their third game in four nights and second straight in two different countries, but Nurse and company expect a fight.

“The hardest thing about these two guys (Davis and James) is that they’re going to hurt you from anywhere on the court – inside, outside, shooting, both are involved in tons of screens and roles in every way, settings and handling, particularly LeBron. ‘ said the nurse. “It’s a long list of things to prepare for with these guys.

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