The Toronto Raptors were mostly healthy when they nearly knocked
off the San Antonio Spurs last month.
They’ve been even better lately while playing short-handed.
With Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry already on the shelf,
Toronto will be without starting center Jonas Valanciunas on
Wednesday night when it looks to win a sixth straight game and hand
the Spurs their first home loss of December.
Amid their awful start to the season, the Raptors gave the Spurs
all they could handle in a 111-106 double-overtime loss Nov. 25
with Bargnani, Lowry and Valanciunas all in the lineup.
While Bargnani (elbow) and Lowry (triceps) have missed the past
six games and are unlikely to return Wednesday, Valanciunas is
expected to miss some time after breaking his right finger in
Friday’s 93-90 win over Orlando. He’s started every game at center
despite being a 20-year-old rookie, averaging 7.8 points and 5.3
“Very unfortunate,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s growing every
time he walks on the floor.”
Valanciunas scored a career-high 22 points versus the Spurs,
including 11 after the third quarter.
Bargnani’s awful performance that day played a role in Toronto
losing, scoring four points on 2-of-19 shooting. He appeared to be
causing problems off the court Dec. 14 when he told an Italian
newspaper the Raptors were “pretty much the worst team in the
However, that very night, Toronto (9-19) began its current
five-game winning streak with a 21-point win over Dallas.
Rookie Terrence Ross had 18 points in that game and scored 13
off the bench Friday, including a couple of highlight-reel
“He’s playing well,” Casey said of Ross, drafted No. 8 overall.
“He’s earning every second he’s on the floor, mainly on the
Jose Calderon added 13 points and nine assists Friday as he
continues to play well in place of Lowry. He’s averaged 14.2 points
and 10.7 assists over the past six games.
While Calderon is starting for Lowry and Ed Davis for Bargnani,
Aaron Gray will likely make his first start of the season to
The Raptors are looking to win six in a row for the first time
since March 22-April 4, 2009.
They’ve dropped four straight in this series and nine of 10 in
San Antonio, which is coming off one of its best performances of
The Spurs (21-8) led by as many as 46 points and hit a
franchise-record 20 3-pointers in Sunday’s 129-91 win over
Danny Green went 7 of 8 from long range and scored a career-high
25 points. He totaled 17 points over his previous three games while
going 3 for 17 on 3-point attempts.
“Some nights you have it and some nights you don’t,” Green said.
“Good thing we had it (Sunday) – not just myself, but everybody
else on the team.
The Spurs also were solid defensively, forcing 20 turnovers and
finishing with a season-best 17 steals.
“We don’t create that many turnovers normally,” coach Gregg
Popovich said. “So that’s a heck of a night for us as far as steals
are concerned. That’s not going to happen very often.”
Toronto has committed an average of just 9.2 turnovers during
its win streak.
Tony Parker added 18 points Sunday and is averaging 22.3 at home
this month as the Spurs have gone 6-0. They lost two of their final
three home games in November.
Parker is averaging 24.0 points in his last seven versus the
Raptors, including 32 last month.
Toronto leading scorer DeMar DeRozan had 29 points in that
meeting and has averaged 27.8 in his last four games versus San