For the second game in a row, the Spurs looked dead in the water, this time at the home of the defending champion Toronto Raptors. After a slow first three quarters, the Spurs came back from 19 points down, fueled by a fired up DeMar DeRozan, who scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half against his former team to lead the mad rally back for a nail-biting 105-104 win.
- Despite this being their second visit back, the Raptors had video tributes ready for both DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl during the first two timeouts. Neither player asked for the trade that sent them away, but it’s good to see their former club still showing them some love.
- For the first time in a while, the Spurs came out with a dead offense, only scoring 43 points in the first half. It took almost until the fourth quarter for the Spurs to find their rhythm again, but the defense came through tonight after it was missing in action in Memphis. A big change Pop made was switch to a zone defense in the fourth quarter, which completely confounded the Raptors long enough for the Spurs to make their comeback.
- This game featured perhaps the two weakest technicals I’ve ever seen, both in the third quarter. The first was on Gregg Popovich. Usually he knows what he’s doing when he gets T’d up, so when he can be seen asking officials why, you know they must have screwed up. Bill Land and Sean Elliott even said the refs looked regretful afterwards. Maybe Pop was saying something to a player, and they mistook it as being directed at them? Who knows.
- The second technical, however, took the cake. With just over 3 minutes left in the third and the Spurs down 17, DeRozan had huge dunk plus the and-1 on Chris Boucher. DeRozan landed on top of him, as he stood up he made about a second of eye contact with Boucher, and the refs T-ed him up for taunting. Everyone was in disbelief. So much more taunting goes on in games than this and is never called. It wouldn’t surprise me if DeRozan appeals this one. Fortunately, neither resulting free throw affected the final score. Otherwise, the Spurs may have had reason to protest the game because that totally would have been the only reason they would have lost.
DEMAR JUST ENDED CHRIS BOUCHER pic.twitter.com/QtT0WCR2Ex— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 13, 2020
- That being said, that T on DeRozan seemed to get the Spurs going, leading to what would be a wild fourth quarter. Their intensity picked up from that point on, and after being down by 14 with 10 minutes left, they went on a 30-4 run (kick-started by a 17-0 run) to take a nine-point lead with 2:37 left. The Raptors responded to that with a 10-0 run to regain the lead before Marco Belinelli (of all people) hit a three, followed by two free throws from DeRozan to seemingly put the game away with the Spurs up by 4 with 9 sec left. However, it wasn’t over yet, as Kyle Lowry hit a three, LaMarcus Aldridge missed both free throws, and Pascal Siakam missed a last ditch heave at the buzzer.
- Speaking of Marco, it was odd seeing him get some minutes in the fourth quarter, but he helped stretch the floor during the comeback attempt and hit that huge three (after missing a couple of open ones) to get the Spurs back ahead for good. Credit Pop where it’s due. Lonnie Walker IV once again wasn’t having a good game on offense, and Pop needed someone to stretch out the floor and give DeRozan room to operate. Beli did just that, and then Pop made the right move by bringing Walker back in to defend the final possessions, and he was rewarded with Lonnie grabbing a soaring rebound ahead of Aldridge’s free throws. Sometimes you just have to accept that Pop still knows what he’s doing.
For the Raptors fans’ perspective, visit Raptors HQ.
The Spurs will finish their four-game road trip on Wednesday at the home of the East’s current second-best team, the Miami Heat. Tip-off will be at 6:30 PM CT on FSSW.