Spurs hang on to beat Raptors

Danny Sanchez, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- Coming off a loss on Saturday night to the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich decided to shake up his starting lineup. The move worked.
Point guard Tony Parker had 26 points and eight assists, leading the San Antonio Spurs to a 112-99 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
"A win is a win," said a relieved Parker. "A win is a win. They've been playing well, the Raptors. They had a big win in OKC (Oklahoma City), and they made it hard on us."
Guard Manu Ginobili added 18, guard Danny Green scored 14, and forward Kawhi Leonard had 13 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio (22-6). Forward Tim Duncan finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Forward Terrence Ross and guard Kyle Lowry each scored 23 to lead Toronto (11-15). Guard DeMar DeRozan added 13. Center Jonas Valanciunas and forward Tyler Hansbrough each had 10 for the Raptors, who defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night.
San Antonio couldn't shake the young Raptors, who kept the game close and cut their deficit to five with two minutes left. Green, who was replaced in the starting lineup by guard Marco Belinelli, came alive in the fourth quarter, hitting all four of his 3-point attempts. His last 3-pointer came with a minute left, making it 108-95 and putting the game out of reach.
"It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter who starts but who finishes the game," said Green about coming off the bench.
He did take inspiration from the player across the locker room that made second string a good thing.
"It makes it very easy when you see a guy like that who should be starting the last seven years come off the bench," said Green on Ginobili. "He's (Manu) taken a very positive attitude toward it and makes it easier for anyone else to approach it that way."
They needed all the positive energy, as the Raptors played aggressively and pulled within 57-56 when DeRozan hit a 3-pointer early in the third quarter. However, Toronto couldn't break through against the veteran Spurs and never got the lead back in the second half.
"They're a really good team," said Lowery. "They're well coached, their players are Hall of Famers, they have a Hall of Fame coach. I think we were definitely fatigued tonight, but a great effort. No moral victories, we could have got this win."
San Antonio had 24 second-chance points to Toronto's 14, a product of the Spurs' 16-11 advantage in offensive rebounds. Overall, the Spurs outrebounded the Raptors 50-40.
"That was the kicker," Raptors coach Dwane Casey stated. "They had a season-high 16 offensive rebounds. That was their season high and that was the difference in the game."
Lowry kept the Raptors in the game in the first half with his hot shooting. He was 6-for 6 from the foul line and hit both of his 3-point attempts on his way to 16 first-half points.
Parker, who had 10 points at the break, drove the Spurs' offense in the paint, as San Antonio scored 34 first-half points in the paint. The Spurs held a 55-49 halftime lead.
The Spurs wound up with 52 points in the paint to 36 from the Raptors.
NOTES: The Spurs improved to 10-1 against Eastern Conference teams this season, with their only loss coming against the Indiana Pacers. ... Toronto took the floor with a different lineup than the one that faced the Spurs on Dec. 10. Since that game, F Patrick Patterson, G Greivis Vasquez, F/G John Salmons and F Chuck Hayes all joined the Raptors after they were acquired from the Sacramento Kings. Toronto won four of its first five games after their arrival. ... Even with Monday's loss, the Raptors are 7-7 on the road, far better than their 4-8 home mark. ... Through Sunday, Spurs G Marco Belinelli ranked first in the NBA in 3-point field-goal percentage, hitting 54 percent (47 of 87) of his shots behind the arc. However, he finished 0-for-5 on 3-point attempts against the Raptors.

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