Coach Dwane Casey of the Raptors did his best Popovich impression and rested two of his starters, Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan against the Spurs Saturday night in San Antonio.
The Spurs opened the game up hitting only two of their first eight shots, until Kawhi Leonard ended the drought with a three. It was a relatively slow quarter for both teams, but the Spurs began to hit shots and triple from Manu Ginobili put the good guys up 15-10 with five minutes to go in the first, leading to a Raptors time-out. Manu provided a much needed offensive spark in the quarter. SA had a 26-18 lead after one. Seven Spurs scored in the quarter.
The Spurs build the lead up to double digits in the second quarter. At one point halfway through the second, San Antonio had assisted on 14 of their 16 made field goals. LaMarcus Aldridge really got going and had 19 points and eight rebounds by the end of the half. Kawhi was also doing his share of facilitating with five assists along with his 10 first half points. The Raptors began to hit shots, but still faced a 55-46 deficit at the break.
LaMarcus carried his brilliance into the third quarter and immediately the Spurs had regained a double digit lead. The Raptors just could not find an answer for him and Kawhi, despite the fact that they were the only two Spurs who took the scoring load. Through three quarters, Kawhi and LaMarcus had 48 combined points. No other Spur had more than five. Toronto made an impressive run to close the third quarter, though, and surged to come within five heading into the fourth. The Spurs had only 16 points in the third.
Toronto cut the lead to just three in the opening minutes of the final quarter, but the Spurs began to attack the basket, draw fouls, and quickly brought the lead back up to 10.
The fourth quarter was a quarter of runs. The Raptors would come within a few points, and the Spurs would push the lead back up to double digits. Not until there was less than two minuets with the Spurs to go did it really seem as if the home streak was in jeopardy. Kawhi scored on two straight possessions late in the game that put the Spurs up eight with 39 seconds to go, and the game was essentially sealed. Kawhi had 33 points (a career high) with seven assists and six rebounds, and Aldridge had 31 points with 15 boards.
Credit to Toronto for staying in this game without two starters.
Spurs win, 102-93, improve to 64-12, and stay perfect at the AT&T Center.