Spurs-Raptors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 15, 2012
The Toronto Raptors just lost a heartbreaking game to the Eastern Conference's hottest team. Welcoming the only team in the NBA with a longer winning streak could make it tough for the Raptors to bounce back. The Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs will try to extend their season-best winning streak to nine on Wednesday night when they continue their lengthy trip in Toronto. Leading the New York Knicks by as many as 17 - and 12 in the fourth quarter - the Raptors (9-21) lost 90-87 on Tuesday night when Jeremy Lin continued his remarkable run with 27 points, including a 3-pointer in the face of Jose Calderon with half a second left. "It should not have come to (Lin's) play,'' said coach Dwane Casey, whose team's last five defeats have been by a combined 20 points. "We had some many boneheaded plays to get to that play and to make that play relevant. We should have taken care of business before that.'' The Raptors, losers of seven of nine, continue their season-high seven-game homestand with their only matchup against San Antonio this season. The Spurs (20-9) arrive in Toronto after improving to 4-0 on their nine-game trip with Tuesday's 99-95 victory over Detroit. San Antonio had won just twice in 10 road games prior to this stretch. Tim Duncan has turned back the clock on this trip, averaging 16.5 points and 12.8 rebounds. The 35-year-old posted his fifth consecutive double-double on Tuesday with 18 points and 13 boards. Tony Parker scored eight of his 14 points in the final 2:07 and Manu Ginobili - playing his second game after missing 22 with a broken bone in his left hand - added seven assists off the bench. "We've got three veteran players out there in Tim, Manu and Tony, and they made plays down the stretch when we needed them," coach Gregg Popovich said. San Antonio last won nine in a row during a 10-0 stretch from Dec. 3-22, 2010. The Spurs also have a chance to win six straight road games for the first time since an 8-0 run to begin 2010-11. San Antonio avoided a third consecutive loss in Toronto and capped off its first season sweep in this series since 2006-07 with a 111-100 victory on Feb. 9, 2011. DeMar DeRozan had 25 points in that game and led the Raptors with 53 on 54.1 percent from the field in two matchups against Spurs last season. The third-year guard, though, has totaled 22 points on 7-of-25 shooting in the last two games. Calderon has been far more efficient in those contests, making 24 of 35 from the field and scoring 55 points. Parker leads San Antonio with 21.0 points per game and 6.8 assists on the trip. The point guard is averaging 20.3 points and 6.0 assists in the Spurs' last three games in Toronto. San Antonio has won 22 of 31 in this series.
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