Raptors turned away at home by Spurs
The message was the same from every corner of Toronto's locker-room — the Raptors need to close out their games better.
Tony Parker scored 34 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, as the San Antonio Spurs dealt Toronto its third-straight loss, 113-106, on Wednesday.
"The last three games, the Laker game, the Knicks game and thisc game, we put up a Hell of a fight," said Toronto forward Amir Johnson. "We just got to learn how to finish out the games.
"We always come up with the short end of the stick."
Johnson echoed the sentiments of Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, who was frustrated by Toronto's play at key points in the second half.
"What we've got to learn how to do is execute," Casey said. "It was 95-90, we got a steal, we go down and get a double dribble call.
"Even if we get a lay-up it's a three point and one possession game. Executing down the stretch."
Parker and forward Tiago Splitter led the Spurs (21-9) in the fourth as they pulled away from the Raptors. Parker went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final quarter, while Splitter scored eight of his 13 points.
'I just wanted to win. I thought we all definitely wanted to come out and win, try to set a statement and come out after the halftime strong and make a push.'— Toronto Raptors froward DeMar DeRozan
Point guard Jose Calderon had 16 points and 11 assists for Toronto (9-22). DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 29 points, while Johnson had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Calderon and DeRozan scored six consecutive points to bring the Raptors as close as 97-96, but Toronto was unable to take the lead at any point in the fourth.
"I think we've got to take the next step in the next few games," Calderon said. "We've got to play the way we've been playing the last few games here at home, from the beginning and I think we've improved.
"I think our team is better, even with those hard losses."
Even San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich felt the Raptors deserved a better fate.
"Toronto was right there," Popovich said. "They've had some tough luck in the last couple of games. They're playing terrific defence, they're playing together on offence. It's going to happen for those guys. I was really happy for (Dwane) Casey and the group to see how well they're playing.
"It's just hard getting over that hump but they're going to do it."
Parker added 14 assists as San Antonio extended its winning streak to nine games, while shooting guard Danny Green had 13 points and seven rebounds.
The game was the Spurs' fifth straight on the road, part of a nine-game trip through the month of February while the rodeo is in San Antonio.
San Antonio's last 10 points of the game were all scored from free throws as Parker, Manu Ginobli and Gary Neal were all sent to the line by the Raptors.
Toronto returned from halftime with hot shooting hands. The Raptors did not miss a field-goal attempt in the first seven minutes of the third quarter, going 10 for 10.
The scoring streak was highlighted by DeRozan's reverse alley-oop dunk from Calderon to make it 66-64 for the Spurs and ignite the crowd of 15,999.
"I just wanted to win," DeRozan said. "I thought we all definitely wanted to come out and win, try to set a statement and come out after the halftime strong and make a push."
James Johnson tied it up for Toronto on the next play with a layup at the 6:10 mark of the quarter.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, they then missed three consecutive shots and San Antonio went on an 11-2 run to pull away again. At the end of three, the Spurs had reclaimed an 83-78 lead.
Toronto native Cory Joseph entered the game for the Spurs with 3:20 left in the second quarter to a small ovation. Joseph is the eighth Canadian NBA player to play at least a game in his home country.
San Antonio built a 55-45 lead by half behind the play of its guards. Parker had 12 points and eight assists in the first two quarters, while Green led the Spurs with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Former Raptors forward Matt Bonner came off the bench to loud applause from the crowd with 2:32 left in the first quarter. Bonner scored a three-pointer seconds later. San Antonio led 25-17 after 12 minutes of play.