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Raptors pull out victory over Spurs

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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TORONTO — Gregg Popovich will have to wait at least another day for his inevitable 1,000th win as an NBA coach, all with the San Antonio Spurs.

Forward James Johnson hit a 3-point jump shot from 23 feet with 49.9 seconds to play to put the Toronto Raptors into the lead on their way to an 87-82 victory over the Spurs on Sunday.

The win ended the Raptors’ string of seven consecutive losses to last season’s NBA champions and gave Toronto a split of the first four games of a five-game home stand.

The Spurs shot only 33.3 percent (31-for-93) from the field while the Raptors shot 43.2 percent (32-for-74).

“We didn’t do anything special to hold them under 100 and they didn’t do anything special to hold us to under 100,” Popovich said. “Sometimes you don’t shoot well. That’s the way it is. I thought both teams were very competitive and I thought we made a lot of bad decisions that really hurt us. Both teams defended pretty well.”

“To hold a team like that to their season low, 33 percent, is admirable,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “It shows how we have to play and grind it out. Guys came in and played, made tough plays, made physical plays, plays with force, on both ends of the floor and that’s where you have to play to beat a championship team like that.”

The Spurs had an 80-77 lead on a 3-pointer by guard Marco Belinelli. James Johnson trimmed the lead to one with a layup before guard Tony Parker made a driving hook shot to restore the three-point edge.

Forward Amir Johnson made a small dunk to reduce the lead to one again before James Johnson went to work. His 3-pointer put Toronto into the lead. He made one of two free throws to extend the lead to three with 4.4 seconds to play.

“I just took the shot I normally take,” James Johnson said. “I took it with confidence. I’m just happy that my guard Kyle Lowry has the utmost confidence in me in that situation and I was wide open.”

After a timeout, the Spurs set up for the possible tie but forward Tim Duncan threw the ball away for San Antonio’s 15th turnover of the game.

“We were trying to go to Manu (guard Ginobli) or Kawhi (forward Leonard),” Popovich said.

“It was a back screen for me and then an option for Kawhi,” said Ginobili, who had nine points. “Tim (Duncan) thought I was going to be open but they made a good play and followed me all the way to that side. We had no timeouts so we were in a tough situation.”

“It was just a bad read, a bad read on my part,” Duncan said.

Guard DeMar DeRozan made two free throws to clinch the game.

James Johnson finished with 20 points to lead the Raptors, while DeRozan had 18, Amir Johnson had 15 points and eight rebounds, and guard Kyle Lowry added 12 points. Center Jonas Valanciunas finished with eight points and 16 rebounds.

Belinelli and Duncan had 12 points each to lead the Spurs, with Duncan adding 12 rebounds. Leonard had 11 points, and Parker and forward Tiago Splitter 10 each for San Antonio, which won its previous two previous games.

Popovich, who has coached the Spurs to five NBA championships, was trying to become the ninth coach to reach 1,000 wins in the league. When he gets the next victory, he will become the second coach to reach 1,000 with one franchise, joining former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

The Raptors led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, but Ginobili beat the buzzer at the end of the quarter with a 3-pointer to cut San Antonio’s deficit to 28-25.

The Spurs took a 31-30 lead nearly three minutes into the second quarter on a reverse layup by forward Boris Diaw. Leonard had the Spurs ahead at nine with slightly more than three minutes to play. The Raptors made a run, and a 3-pointer by forward Patrick Patterson cut the lead to three points. DeRozan made two free throws to slice the Spurs’ lead to 46-45 at the half.

The Raptors (35-17) dominated the third quarter defensively to take a 64-58 lead.

The Spurs (32-19) came back to go in front in the fourth quarter before Lowry tied the game at 77 with 3:37 to play.

“I think we just got back in transition and it was that type of game at both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively,” Lowry said. “Shots weren’t falling but I think we stayed solid.”

NOTES: The Spurs signed F Reggie Williams to a second 10-day contract Sunday. … The Spurs finished a six-game homestand at 5-1 after beating the Miami Heat on Friday, and they started a nine-game trip Sunday at Toronto. The Spurs’ next stop is Monday at the Indiana Pacers. The trip totals 8,084 miles. San Antonio’s next home game will be March 4 against the Sacramento Kings. … F James Johnson shot 7-for-7 while scoring 16 points in the Raptors’ win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, becoming the fifth player in team history to come off the bench and have a perfect shooting game from the field in at least seven attempts. F Amir Johnson set the record, going 10-for-10 on March 4, 2013, at Golden State. James Johnson hit eight of 10 shots Sunday. … The Raptors conclude their five-game homestand against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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