Spurs-Raptors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 25, 2012
Tony Parker has put in some extra shooting practice lately, and the San Antonio Spurs are reaping the benefits. The All-Star point guard will try to continue his recent scoring surge on Sunday when the NBA's best road team takes on the struggling Toronto Raptors. Slowing Parker has become a daunting task for the Raptors (3-10) after he totaled 59 points and a 67.5 shooting percentage in San Antonio's two wins to open a six-game road swing. Parker finished with a season-high 33 points and 10 assists on Friday night to help the Spurs (10-3) rally from a 17-point deficit to beat Indiana 104-97. He ended up making 15 of 23 from the field after going 12 of 17 in a 26-point effort at Boston on Wednesday. Parker had averaged just 11.1 points on 37.9 percent shooting over his previous seven games. "(Coach Gregg Popovich) wanted me to be more aggressive, take more shots, and so I've been working with Chip (assistant coach Engelland), and the last two games, it's been working well for me," he said. Parker also looks to continue his success against Toronto, averaging 17.1 points in 19 career games. He put together a 34-point, 14-assist performance in the last meeting on Feb. 15, 2012, a 113-106 Spurs victory. Tim Duncan is also playing some of his best ball of season, averaging 20.7 points and 15.3 rebounds over the last three games. He had 22 points and 17 boards on Friday for his third straight double-double. The Spurs improved to 6-1 on the road as they outscored the Pacers 48-36 in the paint and are 9-1 when scoring at least 38 in such fashion. San Antonio ranks near the top of the Western Conference in that category with 43.8 per game. The Spurs, though, are expected to be without injured starting forward Kawhi Leonard for the remainder of the trip. He has missed the last four games with tendinitis in his right knee, and Stephen Jackson is also out with a fractured pinkie on his right hand. After dropping its third straight on the road in a 91-90 loss to Detroit, Toronto failed to reach 100 points for the sixth straight game on Friday. "It's really hard to look at the positive side of this situation," said forward Andrea Bargnani, who had a season-high 34 points to go with five rebounds and four assists. The former first overall pick is averaging 27.0 points on 55.2 percent shooting over the last three games. "My shot is falling," he said. "I don't panic. Sometimes you score, sometimes you don't. You just have to be aggressive." In his third game back from an ankle injury that cost him six games, point guard Kyle Lowry finished with 19 points, giving him 40 in his last two games. DeMar DeRozan, though, had his worst performance of the season with five points on 2 of 9 shooting. The fourth-year guard will try to bounce back versus the Spurs, against whom he's averaging 27.3 points in the last three meetings. "We have find a way to get DeMar involved when they're paying special attention to him," coach Dwane Casey said. Starting center Jonas Valanciunas is expected to play after injuring his left leg in the third quarter against the Pistons. San Antonio has won three straight over the Raptors after sweeping the series last season.
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