Duncan, Spurs Stave Off Game Raptors
San Antonio 95, Toronto 90
SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 23 (Ticker) -- Tim Duncan threatened a triple-double as the San Antonio Spurs put down a threat from the Toronto Raptors.
Duncan had 27 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and the Spurs got a solid game from Rasho Nesterovic as they held on for a 95-90 victory over the Raptors.
"Winning is better than losing and Rasho had a great game tonight," said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who was upset despite the victory. "I thought most everybody else was inconsistent and spotty and not playing very well. It's a miracle we have the best record in the West."
A three-time Finals MVP, Duncan made 12-of-16 shots for the Spurs, who nearly got caught looking ahead to the Christmas showdown with Detroit but improved to 12-1 at home.
"Tonight was a good game for us because we were able to grind it out and find a way to win down the stretch," Duncan said. "Rasho was great tonight. He was great all over the floor and played great on both sides of the ball tonight. He played solid defensively, but he always plays solid defensively. He made a great block at the end of the game."
After Bruce Bowen's 3-pointer gave San Antonio an 88-77 lead with 3:45 remaining, Toronto went on a 13-5 run capped by Jalen Rose's jumper that cut the deficit to 93-90 with 14 seconds to play.
"Toronto is a hungry team. We have a lot of respect for them because they are really an up and coming team in the league right now," Bowen said. "We are not where we want to be defensively yet. The most frustrating part is that some of the guys that have been here aren't where we need to be all the time on defense right now. It makes it tough for us to set an example for the new guys on the team."
Michael Finley's two free throws gave the Spurs a five-point cushion with 12 seconds remaining, and Mike James' turnover on the next possession sealed matters.
Tony Parker scored 13 points for the Spurs, who struggled from the line, making just 14-of-27 free throws. Sharpshooter Brent Barry chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Rose led the Raptors with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting and Chris Bosh added 18 points. James scored 14 points and Matt Bonner added 13 off the bench.
"In the NBA there are no moral victories," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "If you are looking for those, you are going to end up looking on a street corner somewhere, because there are none. The point of this league is to compete and we did that. There have been lots of games where we've been playing well enough to win. Now we just have to win them."
San Antonio outscored Toronto, 50-36, in the paint en route to shooting 53 percent (38-of-72).
"Only way we make a point is to beat them on their home court," Bosh said. "I personally don't believe in moral victories. We just never got over the hump. We didn't quite find that killer instinct. We gave ourselves a chance late and we played smart, just some little things cost us this one."
The two teams are polar opposites, with San Antonio improving to 21-6, while Toronto fell to 6-21.
"These two teams have opposite records for a reason and they showed that down the stretch," James said. "They shared the basketball well and really know where to be and when at all times. That is why they are defending champions; they played like it."