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San Antonio at Toronto, Final Score: Spurs unable to keep pace with Raptors in 129-104 loss

A career night for Josh Primo and a double-double from Jakob Poeltl not enough to overcome gaps in the rotation.

San Antonio Spurs v Toronto Raptors Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs continued to struggle with COVID-related absences on Monday, suffering a blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors on the road, 129-104.

Jakob Poeltl led the Silver and Black with a double-double, posting 19 points and 12 boards. He was followed by Devin Vassell and Josh Primo with 15 points each (a career-high for Primo), Joe Wieskamp with 13 and Derrick White with 12.

All five of the Raptors’ starters finished in double digits, as did Justin Champagnie and Precious Achiuwa off the bench. Fred VanVleet continued to make a case for All-Start consideration, dropping a game-high 37 points to go along with seven assists, two rebounds and two assists.

Observations

  • Pop went with the same starting lineup that he used against Detroit on Saturday, featuring Tre Jones, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Jakob Poeltl. It’s a bit interesting to see Jones earn the starting nod at point guard, especially since White’s shown more than capable of filling in that spot with Dejounte Murray out. But there aren’t a ton of chances to play Jones when the roster’s fully healthy, so it still makes sense.
  • Devin Vassell came to play! He scored the Spurs’ first points of the game with a pair of 3-pointers and added another “pop-a-shot” to help the Spurs go up 22-15 in the first quarter. Toronto came back on a 7-0 run while Johnson and Poeltl went to the bench, but it was Vassell who ended it with another triple from the left wing. He finished the first with 11 points on 4-6 shooting.
  • I know Dejounte is supposed to return for Wednesday’s game at Boston but, woof, the team could’ve used him tonight on defense. Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. absolutely cooked the Spurs’ carousel of perimeter defenders. The Raptors ended the first quarter up 30-29 — 23 of their points came from their starting backcourt.
  • Josh Primo checked in for the first time at the start of the second quarter. Bill Land and Sean Elliott recanted a conversation they had with Pop about playing Primo more — Elliott said Pop threw Tony Parker into the fire. Pop replied that Tony had professional experience as a rookie. But Elliott’s final point was correct: you’re not going to ruin him by getting him more minutes. Primo, a Toronto native, didn’t do all that much during the 8 minutes he was out there. He grabbed three boards, dished out an assist to Keita Bates-Diop, kept getting matched up with a much-taller Pascal Siakam on four straight defensive possessions and somehow blocked him twice, got rim stuffed on a dunk and went 1-2 from outside. The Spurs fell behind by 11 but none of their other guards were doing any better. I don’t think he’s ruined!
  • I approve of Derrick White’s black bandaid. It gives him an edge.
  • The Spurs have no answers for the Raptors’ drive-and-kick game. They struggled with every rotation in the second quarter. Toronto hit 7-14 from outside the arc while San Antonio made just 1-5. There’s no way to keep up on offense like that, allowing the hosts to go up 68-53 by halftime. Fred VanVleet was uncontainable — 24 points and five assists.
  • Jakob has quietly had a really good night. A couple of layups, a dunk and an offensive rebound at the start of the third has him up to 19 points on 10-12 shooting, 10 boards and three assists. But that’s also a bit of the problem for the Silver and Black. No offense to Poeltl, but you know it’s not going well offensively when he’s your leading scorer.
  • Primo looked a lot more comfortable in the third quarter — eight points and a really nice dime in transition to Jock Landale. He actually genuinely helped the Spurs get back into the game, cutting the lead down to 10 and forcing the Raptors to call timeout. Still not ruined!
  • It’s been a particularly rough stretch for Keldon Johnson, who’s made just 3 of 12 shots with four misses from outside heading into the fourth quarter. Aside from his big game against the severely shorthanded Pistons, he hasn’t been the same since Dejounte went out. That Detroit game made it seem like he’d take on a bigger role in the offense but he’s made just 11-37 over his last three games. Not ideal.
  • Joe Wieskamp scored 13 points in 10 minutes of garbage time. It kind of makes you wonder if he should’ve been put in earlier. It likely wouldn’t have made much of a impact on the end result, but he looked good while he was out there. I would’ve like to see a little more.
  • The Spurs’ losing streak gets extended to four. We’ll see how much of a difference Dejounte makes when he comes back tomorrow.

For the Raptors fans’ perspective, visit Raptors HQ.

The Spurs are headed to Boston for the second night of the back to back tomorrow. Tip-off will be at 6:30 PM CT on Bally Sports SW-SA.