On a night where tragedy overshadowed the playing of a game, the Spurs overcame a huge deficit and almost pulled out a win against the talented Raptors. They gave up 25 points in the first quarter to Pascal Siakam, but a small lineup with Derrick White and Dejounte Murray fought all the way back in the second half as the team took the lead. But clutch shots from Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet put away the game for the Raptors and a missed call with under 20 seconds left took away the Spurs’ last chance to come away with a win. None of this really seemed to matter as the basketball world mourned the loss of Kobe Bryant and one of his daughters, along with the other lives lost in the tragic helicopter crash in Los Angeles.
- With the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and several other people in a helicopter crash, it’s really hard to concentrate on basketball. If this recap sucks more than usual, that’s probably the reason.
- In a nice gesture, both teams let the shot clock expire in honor of #24 to start the game.
- Pascal Siakam had a Kobe-like 25 points in the first quarter. Remember, the teams ran out the clock for the first two possessions, so he did that in about 11 minutes.
- Lonnie Walker IV came in for a brief stint in the first quarter, made a defensive mistake, and got immediately pulled by Pop. The interesting thing was that Pop put him back in the game after a short graduate-level seminar on defense, and he played the rest of the first quarter and much of the second.
- White started the second half for Trey Lyles in the third quarter and the defense immediately began to pick up, despite the smallness of the lineup. Derrick and Dejounte Murray together might just be the best possible defensive lineup for the Silver and Black.
- When Dejounte Murray hits three-point shots, it really opens up the Spurs’ offense.
- DeMar DeRozan takes a lot of contact going to the basket, and rarely, if ever gets a call.
- I really like Fred VanVleet’s game. He’s a tough little guy, and he knows how to use his body to finish in the paint.
The game actually started with 11:12 on the clock as both teams let the clock expire to honor #24, and then the Raptor’s first shot ended up stuck on the 24 second clock for a turnover, in another (probably unplanned) tribute for Kobe. Not a lot of defense was played early as the Raptors rode Siakam’s hot shooting to an early 14 point lead. VanVleet stretched the lead to 17 as they seemed to be more into basketball than the disinterested Spurs. Things didn’t improve for the Silver and Black as Siakam outscored the Spurs 25-21 on his own and the Raptors led 37-21.
The Spurs started to wake up a bit as the second quarter began, but turnovers hurt them, and they weren’t able to cut into the lead. Jakob Poeltl was able to make some hay in the paint against the smallish Raptor bench. The Spurs were more interested this quarter, and they were playing better, but Toronto was hitting shots. Whereas the first quarter was a Siakam one-man show, the second quarter was an ensemble production, with OG Anunoby and Kyle Lowry getting their star turns. But a great buzzer-beater by White gave the Spurs three points as time expired, and the Raptors led 63-51 at the half.
Both teams missed shots as the third quarter began, but Lowry sneaked a layup past Bryn Forbes to score the first points for Toronto. Nevertheless, the Spurs turned up the defense, and started to hit shots, cutting the lead to single digits with a Dejounte Murray triple midway through the quarter, triggering a Nick Nurse timeout. It didn’t slow down the Spurs as they tied the score at 73 with 5 minutes left in the third. The Spurs were hot from beyond the stripe, and that helped as they finally took the lead with three free throws from Marco Belinelli with a minute left in the quarter. The Raptors regained the lead as the quarter expired, and led 86-85.
Jakob Poeltl regained the lead for the Silver and Black as he rebounded a Serge Ibaka missed shot and got a layup on the other end. A kind rim guided a Patty Mills triple through the net and the Spurs had a 6 point lead, soon to be 8. You know that this year’s Spurs can’t handle prosperity, so they quickly gave up an 8 point run to the Raptors with some awful play, including a pass that bounced off an inattentive Rudy Gay for an open Marc Gasol three-point shot. A Norman Powell triple gave the lead back to the Raptors and they led 100-97 halfway through the quarter. The streak eventually stretched to 14 in a row as the Spurs went cold and the Raptors led 103-97. DeMar used his body control to get to the line, but the Spurs needed stops, and they somehow enticed the Raptors into taking some tough shots, and DeMar hit a midranger to knot the score at 105 each with a minute left. Van Vleet hit a clutch three, and Lonnie Walker IV drew a foul to cut the lead to two. Kyle Lowry raked Dejounte Murray’s arms on his attempt for a rebound, but the ref missed the call, and the Raptors had the ball with 18 seconds left. Forced to foul, the Spurs sent VanVleet to the line and the Raptors were up by 4. That was how the game ended as the Spurs couldn’t make a desperation shot and the clock ran out.
For the Raptors’ fans’ perspective, visit Raptors HQ.
The Spurs will leave tonight for Chicago to play the Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back. Prayers for the Bryant family, and the other families that lost loved ones in the crash today. I’m out until tomorrow. See you then.