||MINNEAPOLIS - Even with a 51-point game and a Slam Dunk Contest title on his resume - two dunk titles, depending on whether or not you took this years contest seriously - Terrence Ross is still taking people by surprise, even his own teammates. Thaddeus Young Jersey . The Raptors second-year forward has been one of the primary beneficiaries of the early-season trade, breaking out and becoming a vital part of his teams success on both ends of the floor. Around the league, teams are starting to take notice and feature Ross more predominately in their pre-game scouting reports but its not just the opposition that hes impressing. After missing his first game of the season with an ankle sprain last week, Ross returned to action on Friday, knocking down six of eight attempts from three-point range while scoring 18 points in 26 minutes. Following the win over Sacramento, Patrick Patterson - acquired in that deal with the Kings in December - was asked who has surprised him the most since coming to Toronto. "Terrence," he responded immediately. "Terrence by far. I had no idea he could shoot like that. I always knew about his athleticism, I watched him in college. I knew about his scoring ability, his ability to attack the rim. Hes a solid defender as well. Hes got some good hands on him as well, but for him to be able to knock down that three at such a consistent rate, come off screen and rolls and hit that midrange jump shot, I had no idea he was such a great shooter." "Terrence is definitely the guy that has caught my eye since being here." A year ago, Ross - a 22-year-old rookie out of Washington - showed flashes of what he could become. His athleticism stood out, more than anything else, but he lacked consistency and, at times, confidence and focus. Selected with the eighth-overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Ross was an unknown commodity. If you ask other players, coaches, front office execs or people around the league what they knew about him at that time, most would admit they were aware of one, maybe two facets of his game. Maybe they knew he could shoot or how athletic he was. Few realized how diverse his game could become. Now, with 132 NBA games under his belt and an opportunity to start and log consistent minutes in coach Dwane Caseys rotation, hes looking like a completely different player. Hes looking like a two-way player. Ross has connected on 17 of his last 27 three-point tries, scoring in double-figures in five straight games, matching a career-high he set back in January. "At times it seems effortless to him," Patterson added. "When hes on the perimeter, just one or two dribbles and he just shoots it with great confidence, such great arc, perfect follow-through and it goes in, nothing but net." Like Patterson, John Salmons has also been pleasantly surprised with Rosss arsenal since exchanging Kings purple for Raptors red. "Man, were sitting on the bench, when he shoots, we think its good," said the veteran Salmons, 11 years Rosss senior. "Hes automatic. Every time he shoots, we think its good. You dont think that about too many people." Those that have been around Ross long enough, working with him from day one - namely DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry - say they could see this coming, raving about what theyve seen from the 23-year-old in practice. For everyone else, its taken a bit longer. Ross had his coming-out party at All-Star Weekend in Houston last year when he won the Slam Dunk Contest. He began to turn heads again after exploding for 51 points in a loss to the Clippers on Jan. 25. "I think the whole league was surprised [after that game]," said former teammate Rudy Gay. "Hes one of those guys that when hes making shots, there aint no one in the whole league that can stop him. He has so much potential. Now that people are starting to see it, hes getting more attention. Its nothing we didnt know." After Gay was traded Ross seized his spot in the Raptors starting lineup. Since, hes playing just under 30 minutes a night - up from 18 - taking twice as many shots (10.6) and averaging double the points (12.7). Since the trade, he ranks eighth in the NBA in three-pointers made - just above teammate Lowry - shooting the long-ball at a 43 per cent clip, up from 33 per cent in his rookie year. Hes been especially proficient from the corners, where hes drained 39 of his treys since Dec. 8, tied for second-most in the league behind Atlantas Kyle Korver. However, its been his defence thats kept him on the floor long enough to knock down all those threes. Ross has earned Caseys trust with his effort, focus and natural ability on the defensive end, routinely tasked with guarding the oppositions best perimeter player. "Hes grown into that role," Casey said. "Hes earned it, he enjoys it, he does a good job with it with his speed and quickness. Hes not totally there yet. I dont want to anoint him as a defensive stopper but hes growing into that role, doing a good job with it, learning each and every [game]." Ross has raised the bar for himself, now the expectations - even internally - have increased. At this point, on this team, Casey is happy with Ross harnessing his efforts on defence and spotting up for open looks but knows hes capable of growing into a more well rounded player. "We want him to be more of a pick-and-roll guy, thats his next step of growth," said Casey. "Making plays for other people will help him a lot. Thats probably where he needs to grow most." How good can he be? Salmons joked that even Ross, himself, is unaware of his full potential. "He dont know," Salmons said with a laugh. "He dont realize how athletic he is." “I hope he [knows how good he is]," Patterson said. "The sky is the limit for Terrence. Hes getting better every single game. His confidence is getting higher and higher and hes believing in himself more. I hope he realizes how good he is right now and how great he can be." Cory Joseph Jersey . During the furious first few hours of free agency Tuesday, the team agreed to terms with strong safety Donte Whitner, a Cleveland native who cant wait to play in his hometown. Aaron Holiday Jersey . -- The Oakland Raiders expect to have starting right tackle Tony Pashos back for Sundays game against the Houston Texans.HOUSTON -- After hitting just .136 last April, the Washington Nationals are certainly enjoying the way Adam LaRoche has started this season. LaRoche continued his hot start Tuesday night, hitting a tying double in the eighth inning and a go-ahead single in the ninth to lift the Nationals over the Houston Astros 4-3. "Its good for him because hes not traditionally a fast starter," manager Matt Williams said. "He really focused on it in spring training and really focused on driving one in. Hes going to hit homers with guys on base but that ones big for us as evidenced tonight. If he can do that the homers will come ... but when he can consistently drive runs in like that were a better team." Jayson Werth homered as the Nationals won the opener of the interleague series. Denard Span drew a leadoff walk in the ninth, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. He scored on LaRoches hit to right field off Josh Fields (0-3). "When Im feeling pretty good, one, Im taking some walks and two, Im using the whole field," LaRoche said. LaRoche is hitting .312 with four home runs, 17 RBIs and 16 walks in 2014. Tyler Clippard (2-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Rafael Soriano walked two in a scoreless ninth for his fifth save. Werth hit fourth home run in the first inning. Houston scored three times in the third for a 3-2 lead, helped by rookie George Springers two-run single. Houston manager Bo Porter was troubled that his team let another one get away late. "Its very concerning, because our starting pitcher did a very good job," he said. "You feel like you are in position to win the game, you have the right guys matched up, and you just dont get it done." Werth singled to start the eighth and scored on LaRoches double to left-centre field. Center fielder Dexter Fowler tracked the ball to the wall, but it glanced off his glove as he crashed to the ground. The Nationals went on to load the bases before Chad Qualls struck out Jose Lobaton. Alize Johnson Jersey. Washington starter Gio Gonzalez allowed five hits and three runs, striking out a season-high nine in six innings. Houstons Jarred Cosart gave up five hits, two runs and struck out six in six innings in his first career start against an NL team. Cosart hit Kevin Frandsen with a pitch to start the third inning and he scored on a double by Lobaton to make it 2-0. Houstons first hit was a double by Matt Dominguez to open the third and he moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Villar. Fowlers two-out single cut Washingtons lead to 2-1 and extended his hitting streak to nine games. Jason Castro reached on a double when the ball bounced off the padding on the wall in left field -- Frandsen saved a run when he made a nifty no-look, backhanded stop on the carom. He said he simply got lucky on the play and shared what he told his teammates when they asked how he did it. "You stick your glove out and maybe some things go in there," he said with a laugh. Springers single on a line drive to left field put Houston ahead. The Nationals had another good defensive play when Span ran up Tals Hill in centre field and landed on his backside as he caught a fly ball hit by Dominguez for the second out of the fourth inning. NOTES: These teams wrap up the two-game series on Wednesday when Houston LHP Brett Oberholtzer opposes RHP Jordan Zimmermann. ... Washington OF Bryce Harper had surgery on his injured left thumb on Tuesday and will be out for an extended period of time. Harper was injured on Friday night against San Diego on a headfirst slide into third base on a triple. ... Houston RHP Scott Feldman, on the 15-day DL retroactive to April 18 with right biceps tendinitis, said he felt good after throwing 35 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday. 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