Raps outwork champs

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

SAN ANTONIO -- Maybe Bryan Colangelo's trigger finger isn't so itchy any more.

The balm for such a malady may have come in the form of a totally unexpected 83-73 win over the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, just their second loss at home this season in 17 games.

Earlier this week Colangelo, the Raptors general manager made it known that a trade -- involving perhaps one or two of the team's lesser role players -- might be just the kind of motivation his club, mired in a three-game losing skid, might need to get things turned around.

A win like last night's accomplished that and probably much more.

How the Raptors got the win was perhaps as improbable as the win itself.

When Sam Mitchell first mentioned it following the morning shootaround, it didn't sound like much of a plan at all.

'TRIP HIM'

Asked how you stopped San Antonio's outstanding point guard Tony Parker Mitchell began with an "I don't know," followed that up with a "trip him, maybe" and finished by suggesting you clog the paint as much as possible and then "hope they miss some shots."

Well, in the world of you-get-what-you-wish-for Mitchell's half-serious plan played out almost to script, although not without a third-quarter scare when the Spurs cut a 12-point deficit to three and actually had it down to just one at one point.

"We played well defensively," Mitchell said afterwards. "We did about as good a job as you can do on Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. I'm just proud of the way we played."

One of the bigger surprises to the game was the fact that the Raptors played the entire fourth quarter with their franchise player, Chris Bosh, on the bench. Both Kris Humphries and Andrea Bargnani were doing such a good job holding Duncan down and producing on offence that Mitchell stayed with them the final 12 minutes of the game.

The Raptors bench, in fact, played much of the fourth and wound up outscoring the Spurs subs 41-15.

Humphries wound up with 14 points and 11 boards in just more than 25 minutes, continuing his strong play of the past three or four weeks.

"I think we're a tough team. It's just that we have to come out with the right mindset and play that way," Humphries said. "We did that against one of the best teams in the NBA and that should show us and everyone else that we can play like that. But it's got to be an every-day effort."

The first half was an exercise in poor shooting, most of it by the Spurs who were a dismal 29% from the field.

Still, the Raps' lead was only 12 at the half and probably should have been much more had they put up their normal offensive numbers. But this was not a particularly good shooting night for Toronto, either, which wound up shooting just over 40%.

What it was, however, was an outstanding defensive night with Parker held to just 15 points, Duncan held to 16 and a toughness on defence by the Raptors rarely seen.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn't waste any words in his assessment of the game.

"I thought tonight they were more physical than we were. They executed better, they were coached better, they wanted it more, and they were more focused in every way shape and form," he said. "We got our butt kicked."

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REPLAY

TURNING POINT

With about six minutes left, the Spurs were issued four technical fouls in a 60-second span to preserve the Raps lead.

NEW POINT MAN

With T.J. Ford's return date still undetermined, the backup point guard duties have officially been moved from Darrick Martin to Juan Dixon.


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