SAN ANTONIO -- The road warriors -- otherwise known as the Raptors -- have limitations.
Fresh off road wins over the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets, the Raptors ran into a much stronger opponent in the San Antonio Spurs last night and gave the defending champs a serious battle.
But while they deserve full marks for effort, poise and resilience, the Raptors just didn't have enough in the tank to record a massive upset as Toronto lost 95-90 at the SBC Center. The loss snapped the Raptors' road winning streak at three games.
"This is the NBA and if you're looking for moral victories in the NBA, you're going to be looking on the street corner. There are none," coach Sam Mitchell said after the worst team in the NBA fell to 6-21, the opposite of the Spurs' 21-6 record.
"We're paid to win basketball games and go out and compete and execute and do things and we just didn't get it done ... We blew an opportunity to beat the world champs on their home floor."
The Raptors trailed almost the entire game, but never let the Spurs get too far away. Even after falling behind by 11 with 3:33 to go, the Raptors whittled the deficit down to four in the final minute before Mike James missed a layup, resulting in a forced Toronto foul and two Spurs free throws. Still, the Raptors clawed back to within three on a Jalen Rose three with 14 seconds left but the Spurs made the ensuing free throws to seal the victory.
KEPT IT CLOSE
"We just never got over the hump," said Raptors star forward Chris Bosh, who was again outstanding with 18 points and seven rebounds. "I think we got them back on their heels and we didn't have that killer instinct to go ahead and take the lead."
Still, the Raptors head into their two-game Christmas break with reason for optimism. They outrebounded the Spurs 39-37 and if not for missing 10 of 25 free-throw attempts, might have won the game.
"That's how we've been feeling the past two weeks. We can go anywhere and play with anybody," Bosh said. "I was telling people I was telling my teammates, if we just get it together at home (where the Raptors are 1-12), there is no telling what will happen. We can get to .500 in my mind pretty quick within two months and just see what happens."
Rose, off the bench, led the Raptors with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting, while the beast named Tim Duncan led the way with 27 points and missed just four of 16 attempts from the field.
The Raptors reconvene Monday night in Detroit for a practice before facing the Pistons Tuesday. Bigger things are happening in Detroit on Christmas Day, however. That's when the Spurs face the Pistons in a championship rematch.
B- Offence: The Raptors turned the ball over 16 times and hit just 15 of 25 free-throw attempts. Those two misgivings spoiled what was a decent night from the field.
B Defence: While the Spurs shot 52.8% from the field, the Raptors made them work for everything and forced 15 turnovers. The Raptors also held an opponent under 100 points for the third game in a row.