TORONTO (AP)—While “Linsanity” consumes the NBA, not too many people are paying attention to San Antonio’s winning streak.
That’s just fine with the Spurs. They don’t mind flying under the radar.
“We’ve been on fire lately,” Parker said. “We’ve been playing very good basketball, moving the ball great.”
But are the Spurs the league’s unsung heroes? Not according to Parker.
“There’s no bigger story than Jeremy Lin right now,” Parker said of the New York Knicks’ sensation. “I’m happy for him. It’s almost like you want to cheer for him. You want him to make every shot. His story is like a movie and he’s performing every night right now.”
Manu Ginobili, who scored 11 points in his third game back after missing a month with a broken left hand, echoed Parker’s comments.
“I think New York deserves all the attention after all they’ve been through and what’s happening right now,” Ginobili said. “They draw attention from me: the New York game finishes and I go to see what they did. It’s crazy.”
Danny Green scored 13 points and matched his career high with seven rebounds and Tiago Splitter also had 13 points for the Spurs, who have not lost since a 101-100 overtime defeat at Dallas on Jan. 29.
But the winning streak is no big deal to the Spurs, who are hoping for more important victories come playoff time.
“No one is walking around here talking about (the streak), no one is sitting here focused on it,” said Richard Jefferson, who scored 10. “It’s more about how can we get better and how can we improve going into the next game?”
Parker went 12 for 12 from the foul line for San Antonio, which last won nine straight during a 10-0 stretch from Dec. 3-22, 2010.
“His 12 for 12 was really exciting because he works a lot on his shot and to have him do that is a real confidence builder,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
The victory was the sixth straight away from home for the Spurs, their longest run since winning eight straight road games to begin the 2010-11 season.
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan failed to extend his run of five straight double-doubles, finishing with eight points and three rebounds.
Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with a sore left ankle, while forward Linas Kleiza was sidelined with a sore left knee. Leading scorer Andrea Bargnani sat for the 18th time in 20 games because of a strained left calf.
“We’re a little undermanned,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said before the game. “If anybody is looking for a 10-day (contract), we’re looking for bodies.”
Toronto trailed by five points to begin the fourth, but used a pair of baskets by Calderon and a driving layup by DeRozan to cut it to one at 97-96 with 4:14 left.
San Antonio answered with a baseline jump shot by Gary Neal and a pair of free throws by Parker, restoring their five point advantage with 3:25 left.
Parker made all eight of his free-throw attempts down the stretch as the Spurs improved to 23-9 all-time against Toronto.
Casey said Parker has developed into “the whole package.”
“The last couple of weeks, he’s been playing at a big time level,” Casey said. “He’s one of my favorite players. He’s so slithery and so quick and now he’s gotten a little strength. He makes it tough to get into him and guard him in these situations. Now he’s developed a jump shot, so you have to honor that.”
Green got all seven of his rebounds and made three of San Antonio’s six 3-pointers in the opening half as the Spurs, who shot 6 for 10 from beyond the arc, led 55-45 at the break.
Toronto battled back by making its first 10 shots of the second half. DeRozan scored 13 points in less than six minutes, including two on a reverse alley-oop from Calderon, and the Raptors followed with a layup from James Johnson that tied it at 66.
San Antonio answered with a 13-4 run over the next four minutes, taking a 79-70 lead and forcing Toronto to call timeout. The Spurs led 83-78 heading to the fourth.
Notes: Parker’s career high in assists is 17, set Jan. 23 at New Orleans. … The Spurs, who evened their road record at 8-8, have four games remaining on their season-long nine game road trip. They don’t play again until Saturday against the Clippers, giving them a couple of days at home to break up the trip. … San Antonio rookie Cory Joseph became the eighth Canadian-born player to appear in a game in Toronto. Cavaliers rookie Tristan Thompson, Joseph’s college teammate at Texas, also played in his hometown on Jan. 4.
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