HoopsHype Terrence Ross rumors

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NBA All-Stars Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and John Wall of the Washington Wizards headline the list of dunkers in the 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk (#SpriteSlam), taking place during State Farm® All-Star Saturday Night (#StateFarmSaturday) at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 15. Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors and Ben McLemore of the Sacramento Kings fill out the Western Conference teams, while reigning Sprite Slam Dunk champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors completes the East roster. This year's event will feature the participants competing as a team -- three players representing the Eastern Conference and three players representing the Western Conference -- in an above-the-rim two-round format. In a significant first in the event's history, the competition will tip off with a Freestyle Round where the dunkers for each conference will have 90 seconds to showcase as many dunks as they want. At the conclusion of the Freestyle Round, the panel of judges will then choose a winner by voting "East" or "West." The winning conference will earn the advantage of deciding whether its dunkers will dunk first or second in the head-to-head battles that take place in the Battle Round. NBA.com

Sources told ESPN.com that Indiana's Paul George, Washington's John Wall and Portland's Damian Lillard are confirmed entrants in the dunk field that will be officially announced later Thursday on TNT. ESPN.com reported Wednesday night that George, Wall and Lillard were poised to join defending champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors in the competition. ESPN.com

Jon Santiago: As I mentioned yesterday, Terrence Ross said he'll defend his title. @Chris Haynes reported earlier that Damian Lillard will compete too. Twitter @itsjonsantiago

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In as entertaining a contest as the Air Canada Centre has seen in years, the teams played high-octane, all-out offensive basketball, but the undermanned Raptors came up short 126-118 despite a franchise-record-tying 51 points by Ross. And, in the end, though frustrated to lose, even the famously defensive-minded Raptors head coach couldn’t help but marvel at what went on. “For the fans it was a great exhibition of basketball,” Casey said. “The young man, Terrence, picked it up. We lose DeMar (DeRozan) and put on a heck of a display. Not only did he have 51 points, he had nine rebounds which was huge too.” Toronto Sun

Ross’ career game boosted his season scoring average to 10.2, but that’s still historically low for a 50-point scorer. There have been 307 50-point games since 1963-64, as far back as Basketball-Reference’s records go. Nobody – not Tony Delk, not Willie Burton – had a lower season average the year of a 50-point game than Ross. To see how big an outlier Ross is, here are the other 306 50-point games, sorted by the season scoring average of each player. Ross’ points per game are represented by the horizontal red bar – the bar that every vertical line representing a previous 50-point game clears. NBCSports.com

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A day later, Raptors swingmen Rudy Gay and Terrence Ross found the whole thing hilarious. "I thought it was genius," Gay said. "Honestly. Honestly. That's the name of the game, to find loopholes in things," he said, before cautiously adding, "Supposedly. I'm not a PhD in reading lips, so I can't say what he said. He might have been talking with someone on the sidelines." Added Ross: "That's a player tactic. He got away with it. They'll probably make a rule about it next year." Toronto Sun

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Sam Amick: Raptors exercise options on Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. Now on board through 2014-15. Put Jonas on your League Pass alert, FYI. Twitter @sam_amick

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“The talent is there,” Casey said. “There is not a better athlete in the NBA than Terrence Ross. But just, bringing it on a consistent basis is his own personal challenge. We pushed him as a coaching staff and work with him till the cows come home, but until he makes up his mind mentally that he is going to exert that same athleticism and effort on both ends of the floor, that’s when he will make the next step. … He has been working with a shooting coach this summer, trying to get that consistent, working on his shot. His ballhandling, his defense in pick-and-roll situations, he has been working on that all summer.” Sporting News

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