Saturday night’s 119-114 win over the Toronto Raptors may not have been as visibly pleasing in some aspects compared to their season opener in Memphis, but the Spurs put on a show once again to show that this team just might be different from last year’s squad. While the defense still needs work, the offense is definitely better with the unpredictable style, but the biggest change in this squad so far seems to be their mental toughness.
Not only do they seem unafraid of the moment, are fighting back when they get down before it gets out of hand, and are not letting momentum-shifting plays by the opponent get in their heads, but usual mental blocks seem to be getting out of the way. Take DeMar DeRozan for example. He knows he can shoot threes but just needs the confidence to do so, and both according to Pop’s words and his performance so far, it would seem that confidence is there, hitting three on the night, including a clutch one late that put him at 100th on the all-time NBA scoring list.
Coach Pop on DeRozan's 3 made threes tonight: “DeMar, that’s part of his game this year, to shoot more 3s.— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) December 27, 2020
Although it wasn’t his most accurate shooting night, Dejounte Murray notched his first career triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists (to just 2 turnovers), showing off his improved all-around game.
Patty Mills was also in FIBA form, with 21 points on 8-9 shooting, 5-6 from three to lead the way for the second unit.
Last but not least, it’s only fair to point out that while LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t have his strongest scoring night, he undoubtedly had the play of the game, scoring what would end up being the game-winning basket on a series of offensive rebounds and sheer refusal to be denied.
The Spurs will tip-off again tonight in New Orleans against a mountainous squad in what may be a battle of size vs. speed, so it should be another fun one!