San Antonio (5-3), down its burgeoning stars in Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell, succumbed to a sustained wave of limbs and runouts in a defeat at the hands of a Toronto Raptors (5-3) team trying to maintain pace with Milwaukee and Cleveland. The Spurs were done in by an uncharacteristically slow start and few viable solutions around and through the length of the Raptors’ defensive footprint. Though San Antonio kept things close in the first 15 minutes, Toronto stepped on the gas in the second half to put the game out of reach emphatically.
San Antonio was paced by Keita Bates-Diop’s 16 points, while all 13 Spurs who played scored. A triple-double from Pascal Siakam (22 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds) was bolstered by Gary Trent, Jr. (24 points), reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes (15 points and 5 assists), and OG Anunoby (18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 steals) led a balanced Raptors attack despite missing Fred Van Vleet’s services.
- That lower bowl of the arena looked quite empty at tipoff...
- Best in-timeout entertainment to watch? Flying Fries by far!
- Second best entertainment? Seeing my old middle school dance squad at halftime!
- Could the Raptors’ least athletic player be Van Vleet?
- My wife joked that she’s seen Kawhi Leonard in more commercials than on League Pass this season.
- A suitable player comp for Jeremy Sochan to ascend towards? OG Anunoby.
- The Raptors sicced the 6’8” Barnes on the 6’1” Jones, which made movement and entry passes way harder than Sunday evening.
- Zach Collins demonstrates a feathery passing touch to his wings.
- Jordan Hall, Charles Bassey, and Dominick Barlow got their first extended playing time as new Spurs.
- During Bruce Bowen’s visit with Sean Elliott and Bill Land, Elliott read a text allegedly from GOATPUFF reminding Bowen has a “face made for radio.” The joshing never ends among the Spurs’ all-timers!
- Malaki’s Moments: Branham showed off the sweet shooting touch that had many Pounders salivating during the off-season.
- Siakam sets up for his free throws at least 2-3 feet behind the line, which is... interesting.
- The Raptors make a compelling case for a bunch of stretchy sinewy guys executing a more effective defense through a playoff series over the tall frontline Minnesota kept rolling out the other night.
- Sequence of the Game: In the middle of the fourth quarter, Bassey erased a Malachi Flynn floater and Gorgui Dieng blocked a Thaddeus Young fadeaway in the same possession.
- Anonoby and Barnes opened with transition dunks, while Toronto forced a cavalcade of turnovers, forced passes, and deflections to blitz the Spurs from the onset. Sochan started this team’s scoring with a ferocious tipback only for Christian Koloko to throw down an alley-oop in response. Barnes looked like he was auditioning for the dunk contest with three stuffs, and Siakam provided the requisite halfcourt support whenever Toronto needed it. The quick-releasing McDermott even had an attempt swatted away, but San Antonio stayed uncowed and continued to attack with a 10-0 run of its own. Collins, McDermott, and Richardson salvaged a track-meet of an opening frame with the Spurs down only one.
- A Poeltl lay-up briefly gave the Spurs their first lead to start the second, but the Raptors continued to feast in transition while furiously contesting every San Antonio dribble, pass, and shot. Josh Richardson and Chris Boucher were given double technicals. Richardson swished a wing three shortly after, but the Spurs continued to turn the ball over to Toronto’s advantage. Yet another turnover led to a Boucher dunk to put Toronto up 15 heading to the half.
- A flat Spurs lineup ceded another 6-0 run to the energized Raptors to start the third period, and Toronto quickly extended the advantage out to 28 in a matter of moments. By my rough count, the visitors had converted at least eight steals into breakaway dunks heading into the final period.
- Gifted an extended garbage time after a 72-39 run by the Raptors in the two previous quarters, Hall netted an assist and a deflection, while Branham knocked down back-to-back smooth threes. Even former Spur Thaddeus Young got in on the steal action. Bassey swished a pop-a-shot from the baseline along with a straightaway three.
For the Raptors fan’s perspective, please visit Raptors HQ.
San Antonio completes its homestand with a battle against Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers Friday evening at 7:00 PM CDT.