NBA Basketball: Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs – Spurs Favored
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The San Antonio Spurs have bounced back to win five straight since an uncharacteristic 1-4 stretch. They’ll look to extend their run to a season-high six games when they host the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
San Antonio (38-18) has already lost more home games this season than it did in 2005-06, and is one defeat shy of its overall total from last season, when it finished with the second-best record in the NBA at 63-19. Although the Spurs won’t match that gaudy mark, they have the third-best record in the league and appear to be getting better.
"Our consistency at some points is not there, but we are starting in the right direction," forward Tim Duncan said. "It’s good to come out of the (All-Star) break playing well."
Tony Parker scored 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting Saturday to lead the Spurs to a 102-71 win over Seattle, San Antonio’s third straight at home. The Spurs led by as many as 36 and held the Sonics to a season-low point total.
Manu Ginobili added 11 points, five rebounds and seven assists off the bench. He’s averaging 19.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 11 games since becoming San Antonio’s sixth man.
"We had a total team effort. You love it when the guys are passing the ball, getting open jumpers," forward Robert Horry said. "That’s when we’re at our best."
The Spurs, though, could have their hands full Monday with a Toronto team that’s won four of its last five games and 12 of 15.
Since opening the season 2-8, the Raptors (31-25) have gone 29-17 to climb to the top of the Atlantic. They snapped Charlotte’s franchise record-tying four-game win streak with a 93-76 victory in Charlotte on Saturday, their sixth win in eight road games.
Chris Bosh scored all 24 of his points in the second half, taking advantage of an injury to Charlotte’s Emeka Okafor, who departed with a strained calf in the third quarter. Bosh added 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double in seven games.
"It was a difference, but what happened was inevitable," Bosh said of his second-half performance. "I was going to size (Okafor) up a little more. He did a good job on me in the first half and I got into foul trouble. But eventually I’m going to find a way to get it done."
Since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for 12 games in December, Bosh has scored at least 20 points in 23 of his 25 contests. He’s averaging 25.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in his last eight games.
Toronto got 38 points and 28 rebounds from its reserves, including 16 points from Jose Calderon and eight points and a career-high 11 rebounds from Andrea Bargnani. The top overall pick in last year’s draft, Bargnani is averaging 14.5 points on 49.4 percent shooting in his last eight games, making 20 3-pointers.
"Coming in here on a back-to-back, not having a chance to prepare for them and being on the road, our guys did a nice job," coach Sam Mitchell said. "All those guys that came off the bench gave us a spark."
San Antonio has four straight against Toronto and eight of nine. The Spurs got 26 points, six rebounds and four assists from Duncan in a 103-94 victory at Toronto in the first meeting of the season Nov. 5.
The Raptors are winless in their last five trips to San Antonio, going without a victory there since Jan. 17, 2001. They trail 6-16 in the all-time series.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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