The Spurs entered tonight’s game against the Toronto Raptors looking to give Gregg Popovich his record-breaking 1,336th regular season win, but after a strong second quarter spotted them a 61-58 halftime lead, the Raptors amped up their defense in the second half and started hitting their outside shots. Losing Dejounte Murray for much of the third quarter didn’t help, but the Spurs completely lost their offense, getting outscored 61-43 after halftime for the 119-104 loss.
Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 27 points on 10-19 shooting (just 3-9 from three), and Murray had 25 points, 12 assists, and 9 rebounds. Three Raptors starters scored 20 or more points, led by 26 from Fred VanVleet.
- In a funny moment (for me) me to start the game, Murray had a nice lefty layup to open the game, and Sean Elliott said, “A determined drive for Dejounte early.” My first thought was he stuttered while trying to say “Murray” before quickly realizing he did in fact mean “early”.
- The Spurs looked out of sorts to start the game. After that first basket from Murray, the Spurs missed four of their next five shots, none of which came within the rhythm of the offense, and had three turnovers. The third one — a steal by the Spurs getting poked away in the open court for a VanVleet layup and 10-4 deficit — forced a Pop timeout. The Raptors weren’t much hotter, and both teams combined to miss the first 11 threes of the game before Johnson hit one with four minutes left in the first. That three kicked off seven straight points for him and 15 overall in the first half, and the Spurs offense got a little better from there, and they ended the quarter down 29-34.
- The offense continued to open up more for the Spurs in the second quarter, and an 8-0 run tied things back up after they had been down by as much as eight at 45-45, and later they would get their first lead at 53-52 since they were up 2-0. Most of the first half was a battle of the first-time All Stars, with Murray putting up a very efficient 15 points on 6-9 shooting, and VanVleet scoring 21 on a less efficient 6-14, but he took advantage at the free throw line, hitting 7-8. The Spurs led at the half up 61-58.
- Murray was lost for a seven-minute stretch in third quarter after banging heads with Khem Birch. Murray was left with a bleeding forehead, and Birch lost a tooth, which could be seen flying out on camera. (Derrick White can relate.) Birch stayed in for another minute before being subbed out, while Murray returned in the final minute of the quarter after getting the gash on his head closed.
- The third quarter was extremely streaky. An early 8-0 run by the Spurs to get their largest lead of the game of seven forced a Raptors timeout, and they responded with 9-0 run to retake lead. Scottie Barnes had 12 points in the quarter, and after the game was tied at 75-75, the Raptors went on a 14-4 run (during which it felt like the Spurs had a momentum-swinging series with a Josh Richardson block leading to a big time Johnson dunk, but a weak technical on Richardson from Ed Malloy on the next play quickly ended that), and the Spurs ended the quarter down 91-84. As we all know, they have not won a game this season when down heading into the fourth quarter...
- ...and the Spurs didn’t look too eager to change that trend, with the Raptors opening an 11-point lead to start the fourth, forcing a Pop timeout after they stole a lazy inbounds pass for the transition dunk. The Spurs struggled to create any good looks against the Raptors’ swarming defense, in no small part because Toronto was backing off of Tre Jones, and he refused to take any open shots. The Raptors kept gradually pushing the score up, and Pop emptied the bench with 2:40 left. His record-breaking win will have to wait.
- At least draft watchers will be happy with the loss. The Raptors win puts them one game closer to giving their lottery-protected 2022 first round pick that should fall in the mid-to-late teens to the Spurs instead of conveying it to next season. With three potential first round picks, including their own that should be in the lottery, they’ll have a lot of assets to work with.
For the Raptors fans’ perspective, visit Raptors HQ.
The Spurs continue their homestand on Friday against the Utah Jazz. Tipoff will be at 7:30 PM CT on Bally Sports SW-SA.