Home
 
Choose Your City
Change City

Raptors win over Spurs

In the dying seconds against one of the best teams in the NBA, Raptors rookie Roko Ukic didn't even flinch as he drove past Tony Parker on his single-minded mission to get to the basket.

In the dying seconds against one of the best teams in the NBA, Raptors rookie Roko Ukic didn't even flinch as he drove past Tony Parker on his single-minded mission to get to the basket.

The unexpected heroics were part of a career-high 22 points by Ukic, and lifted Toronto to a 91-89 win over the San Antonio Spurs, sending the short-handed Raptors into this weekend's all-star break exactly where they wanted to be - on a winning note.

"I really like those situations when I have the ball on top and I just think of scoring," Ukic said on his last basket of the game. "I feel pretty comfortable in this situation, much more than for example shooting free throws at the end. I really like to play and try to make something happen.

"I didn't feel much pressure, I saw the lane was pretty much open and I just tried to go all the way to the basket."

The win, that came without stars Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon, snapped the Raptors' three-game losing streak at the Air Canada Centre.

Andrea Bargnani scored 23 points to top Toronto (21-34), while Jason Kapono added 21 points and Anthony Parker finished with 10. Jermaine O'Neal added a team-high 10 rebounds to go with seven points.

Parker started at point guard, but the rookie Ukic played the majority of the game there and did an admirable job en route to topping his previous high (16 points), showing a veteran's poise down the stretch. The Raptors held their own all night, leading by as much as nine points in the first half and never trailing by more than six in the opening three quarters. The Spurs led 69-67 heading into the final 12 minutes.

Manu Ginobili scored six straight points to open the fourth quarter, and then drained a three with 5:16 left that gave the Spurs a seven-point lead. But the Raptors battled back and the Spurs led by just four with a minute on the clock. Ukic, not exactly known for his long-range shooting, calmly sunk a three with 50 seconds left to make one-point game, bringing the Air Canada Centre crowd of 18,909 to its feet. Then, with 20.9 seconds on the clock, the 24-year-old breezed by Tony Parker to sink his floater that proved the winning basket as Parker missed on the last shot of the game.

"He's a confident kid, he's been playing pro since he was six years old, he's been collecting a cheque for 20 years now," Kapono joked about Ukic.

Kapono, who will go for his third consecutive three-point shooting title this weekend in Phoenix, was asked if he's been giving Ukic any pointers.

"I've been telling him a three-point tip is to pass the ball to me, but he always has the excuse (that) I'm covered. I don't think I am," Kapono kidded. "Thank God he made them because I was going to have to break down film with him."

Ukic shot 9-for-13 on the night.

Without Bosh and Calderon, just eight Raptors saw any action. Calderon missed the game with a sore right hamstring, the same injury that sidelined him for 10 games in January and two in November, while Bosh sat his fourth consecutive game with a sprained right knee.

Compounding Toronto's injury woes, Joey Graham, who was coming off a 24-point performance the previous night, left the game with 2:56 left in the first quarter with a left shin contusion.

"They had to play a lot of minutes, they had to play extra minutes, they played very well, and our goal going into the break was to finish strong and with a team effort and we certainly got that," Raptors coach Jay Triano said.

Ginobili scored 15 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter to top the Spurs (35-16), who had won 10 of their previous 12 games. Parker finished with 22 points while Tim Duncan had 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised the performance of the rookie Ukic.

"He did a great job, he's not a three-point shooter and he knocked them down tonight," Popovich. "That's way you play then, things don't always go the way percentage say, We have is those shots and he stuck them right to us."

The Raptors were coming off a 110-102 victory at Minnesota the previous night that ended a six-game losing streak.

The Raptors shot 45 per cent from the field to the Spurs' 42 per cent, but the Spurs outscored Toronto 52-32 in the paint and outrebounded the home team 46-39.

Duncan led the way with 10 points in the first quarter, and his dunk with three minutes left gave San Antonio a six-point lead. Ukic scored on a driving layup with five seconds left to send the Raptors into the second quarter trailing 22-20.

The Spurs stretched their lead to six points early in the second, but a Jamario Moon three-pointer kick-started a 19-4 Raptors run putting them up by nine points just over a minute before halftime. Toronto went into the dressing room up 49-43.

San Antonio opened the third on a 15-2 run capped by a driving hook shot by Duncan to give the Spurs a five-point lead midway through the quarter. The Raptors battled back to take a brief two-point lead and trailed 69-67 with one quarter left.

NOTES: Bosh was named a reserve to the Eastern Conference all-star game, but had to bow out of this Sunday's game in Phoenix because of his injury. Cleveland's Mo Williams replaced him. . . The Raptors don't play again until next Wednesday, when they host Cleveland. . . Former Raptor Matt Bonner, now with the Spurs, reiterated his hopes to play for Canada's national team and said he's applying for citizenship. Bonner has a grandfather from Newfoundland and his wife is Canadian.

 
Consider AlsoFurther Articles