Spurs (35-9) at Raptors (28-16)

No Leonard no problem as Spurs stretch streak to five and deal Raptors fourth straight loss

A hot ticket already cooling off considerably, with the home side struggling, got decidedly cooler Tuesday night during player introductions ahead of Raptors-Spurs at the Air Canada Centre.

But the Raptors took the Spurs to the wire in a 108-106 loss, showing signs of life that had coach Dwane Casey optimistic the team is turning the corner on this slump.

The Raptors trailed the No. 2 team in the Western Conference all night, finally taking their first lead midway through the third quarter.

The only real challenge I can see facing the Spurs tonight is staying disciplined on defense. There was a game where we were missing shots we normally make. "Down the stretch, very honestly, it went our way".

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"That second half was, I think, Raptor basketball", Patterson said. "If we don't play hard, we don't get stops".

Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan faces at least two games on the sidelines after spraining his right ankle against the Phoenix Suns, his team confirmed Tuesday.

"I was really proud of the way they played", Casey said. Spurs F Kawhi Leonard (sore left hand) missed his second straight game and G Tony Parker (sore left foot) missed his fourth game in a row.

The difference was in a series of small plays that added up: The Raptors allowed Patty Mills to run out for an uncontested lay-up with just under six minutes left that gave them the lead; Jonas Valanciunas let Aldridge spin back to his right hand after forcing him left and under the backboard, seemingly trapped. Powell got the lay-up and Toronto was down one, but the Raptors only had five seconds to get the ball up the floor to tie or win and that didn't prove enough as it took a second or two to control the rebound of Aldridge's missed free throw. "How you come out of this, how you fight against it, how you compete against it - that's the most important thing". "It's not the three-point shots or the fancy plays, it's the fundamentals - box out, free throws, layups - tonight in the second half". Trailing by two, Terrence Ross opted to shoot a contested three with 11 seconds left that missed.

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Aldridge tied it when he completed a three-point play when he converted the free throw after sinking a turnaround hook shot with 3:25 to go.

"But we have to play that way no matter who the opponent is", Patterson said.

It is a game that the Spurs are favored in because they have stated in the top 3 teams in the league. But getting right against the Spurs is a tall order.

Not surprisingly, the bench resurgence came on the same night that Patrick Patterson returned to the fold after sitting out 10 of the past 12 games with a knee injury. A matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies is slated for Wednesday night at FedEx Forum, and David Fizdale's club figures to pose a stiff test on the second night of Toronto's grueling back-to-back.

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