The Spurs survived a back-and-forth crunchtime battle in their home opener to knock off the Raptors 119-114 and improve to a perfect 2-0 to begin their 2020-2021 campaign.
DeMar DeRozan paced San Antonio with a team-high 27 points while adding five rebounds and eight assists. Fred VanVleet led the charge for Toronto with 27 points and nine assists.
- Undrafted fourth-year center Chris Boucher played the role of unsuspecting hero for the Raptors as he had his way with the Spurs from opening tip to the final buzzer. The big man racked up 22 points, ten rebounds, and seven blocks, narrowly missing out on a rare point-rebound-block triple-double. San Antonio has struggled to contain athletic seven-footers and tonight was no different.
- Though Pascal Siakam bullied the Spurs for 12 points, 12 boards, and five assists in the first half, San Antonio mostly held him in check throughout the night. The Spurs also shut down Kyle Lowry, who got into early foul trouble and never found his rhythm. Fred VanVleet started slow but picked up the slack for his teammates, picking apart the Silver and Black over the final two frames, ending the game with 27 points, nine assists, and five three-pointers.
- Pop continued to integrate LaMarcus Aldridge into the high-speed game plan, but he just looked a step slower than he did in the season debut earlier this week. His 12 points on 14 shots weren’t encouraging, though I’m still willing to chalk it up to offseason rust and some unfamiliarity with a newer system. Trey Lyles also got a chance to test his fit within the new scheme, netting three points on one shot beyond the arc in his 2020-2021 debut. It’ll be worth monitoring how this duo meshes with San Antonio’s bubble ball lineups from the NBA Restart.
- Lonnie Walker IV put home a couple of gorgeous finger-rolls in the second quarter that would’ve made George Gervin proud to see the third-year guard rocking silver and black. He dropped 14 points tonight and scored in double-digits in back-to-back games for the first time this season, a feat he notched just four times a year ago. Lonnie failed to maintain momentum and found himself back on the bench, despite a solid showing on the box-score. He continues to take steps in the right direction, but consistency remains the key to earning Pop’s trust and unlocking his full potential.
- First-round rookie Devin Vassell scored the first points of his NBA career on a three-ball versus the Grizzlies in his league debut and added a second triple to his collection on Saturday night, tickling the twine from the downtown just seconds after checking into the contest. The 11th overall pick looked every part of the two-way wing described by draft experts in the second quarter when he came up with a block, a steal, and a pair of two-handed jams.
- I swear I saw a green and golden glimmer when Patty Mills ran the floor tonight. Not only did he resemble the off-ball menace who dominates FIBA play for the Australian National Team, but he embodied the colors of his homeland, taking advantage of his green light and going practically golden from the field. Patty scored 21 points in 29 minutes, missing a singular shot while giving San Antonio a much-needed lifeline off the bench.
- The Silver and Black improved to 21-2 in home openers under head coach Gregg Popovich after a nail-biting victory over the Raptors tonight. San Antonio has now won their last 12 home openers, the longest active streak in the NBA. How about that for the unrivaled consistency of one of the greatest franchises in sports?
- From the moment he stepped on the hardwood, Rudy Gay was a revolving door on the defensive end. The 15-year pro registered an eye-popping three blocks in his season debut but failed to make much of an impact against the Raptors. I doubt Pop will be asking for my opinion on lineups or rotations anytime soon. Though if he did, I would advise him to significantly limit the number of minutes Gay receives on a nightly basis. While he can still be useful as a sparkplug in favorable matchups and situations, he puts a stopper in the hopes of implementing a defense-first approach.
- Dejounte Murray was spectacular in San Antonio’s season opener, scoring 21 points, grabbing six boards, and handing out nine assists. The fourth-year floor general wasn’t as successful shooting the ball in the Spurs home opener, yet managed to pick up the first triple-double of his career. He played his usual menacing defense and had 11 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists. Best of all, the Spurs came away with the win.
- It was deja vu for Popovich and crew as they allowed more than 30 points in the first quarter for the second game in a row. While this might have been an insurmountable obstacle to overcome a season ago, San Antonio nearly paced Toronto’s whopping 39 first-quarter points with 33 of their own. The Spurs ultimately secured the lead by halftime, though getting out to better defensive starts and avoiding an initial deficit should be a top priority down the road.
- DeMar DeRozan tallied his first basket of the evening off a wide-open corner three early into the first quarter. The four-time All-Star only made nine triples on 25.7% shooting from beyond the arc a year ago but fired away without a semblance of hesitation on his way to three long-range bombs. The Spurs’ star swingman cooled off a bit after a 16 point first quarter but found a way to get his teammates involved to keep the offense rolling. DeMar ended his outing with 27 points, supplanting six-time All-Star Nate Archibald as the 100th highest scorer in NBA history in the process.
For the Raptors fans’ perspective, visit Raptors HQ.
The Spurs are back it again tomorrow as they take on the New Orleans Pelicans in their first back-to-back of the young season. Tip-off is 6:00 PM CST and will broadcast on FSSW.