Spurs overcome injuries to top Toronto
SAN ANTONIO -- With Tim Duncan and Tony Parker out, the San Antonio Spurs needed scoring. They did better against Toronto than just keep up.
Manu Ginobili scored 36 points without Parker and Duncan in the lineup, and the Spurs beat the Raptors 131-124 on Monday night in a shootout despite San Antonio's two leading scorers sitting out with sore ankles.
Ginobili hit four 3-pointers in the fourth, but afterward, the Spurs were less impressed with their offense than disappointed in the dent to their defensive reputation.
"I think we're going to score, we just got to play better defense," Ginobili said. "We were talking before the season about trying to be the best team in the league defensively, and so far we're not even close."
Chris Bosh had 32 points and nine rebounds for Toronto, but his third 30-point game of the season wasn't enough after another soft defensive game for the Raptors.
Hedo Turkoglu scored 20 points and Andrea Bargnani had 17 points for Toronto, which gave up more than 125 points for the third time this season. Though off to their best offensive start in team history, the Raptors are also among the worst defensive teams in the NBA.
"You can't give them any confidence. We did the opposite, we gave them confidence," Bosh said. "We gave them points right off the bat. They scored a lot of points."
Richard Jefferson scored half his 24 points in the fourth quarter and George Hill added 22 for the Spurs, who reignited their offense after scoring 84 in a loss at Portland on Friday -- and lost their two biggest stars in the process.
Duncan hurt his left ankle against the Trail Blazers after playing a season-high 35 minutes and scoring 14 points. He finished the game, and coach Gregg Popovich said he was unsure when the injury occurred.
MRI tests revealed no structural damage. Parker was also hurt against Portland after rolling his ankle in the second quarter and did not return to that game.
Neither injuries are considered serious, and both players are listed as day-to-day.
Ironically, the Spurs have kept a close eyes on minutes around this season in hopes of lessening the wear-and-tear and keeping players healthy down the stretch.
Entering Monday's game, the Spurs were the only team in the league without a player averaging at least 30 minutes a game. Duncan is averaging 29 minutes and Parker 26.
The Raptors led by as many as 10 in the second quarter and shot better than 63 percent in the first half. But Toronto -- which entered Monday as the third-highest scoring team in the NBA -- couldn't match the Spurs shot-for-shot in the fourth quarter.
Ginobili hit four of San Antonio's six 3-pointers in the fourth, when Jefferson also scored 12 of his 24. Without Duncan in the lineup, Jefferson found himself in an unusual position to start the game -- the frontcourt.
"That first six minutes for me was a little bit of a struggle trying to find my way," Jefferson said. "I'm still trying to figure out the three spot."
Bosh, who had nine points, was 8 of 16 from the field and hit 15 of 17 foul shots.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game he's not rattled by slow starts, particularly since the Spurs are still working in seven new players acquired in their offseason overhaul. Still, San Antonio avoided starting a second consecutive season at 2-4.
Marco Belinelli had 12 points off the bench for Toronto.
Bonner is a 3-point specialist whose role is to spread the floor, but just before halftime he stormed down the paint for a rare one-handed dunk that appeared to leave Duncan in saucer-eyed disbelief from the bench ... In the first quarter, Raptors G Jose Calderon eclipsed the 2,000-assist mark in his 298th NBA game. He is Toronto's all-time assist leader.
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