After two gutsy wins in Phoenix, the San Antonio Spurs got a taste of their own medicine against the Toronto Raptors. Despite leading by 20 points in the third quarter, San Antonio lost to the Raptors 123-116 in overtime.
It took awhile for the Spurs to get going in the first quarter, but once they took the lead, they didn’t give it back until overtime. Early in the game, the Spurs were effective turning the Raptors over and stopping their interior attack. Offensively, they were attacking the basket and utilizing Victor Wembanyama in the pick and roll. The Spurs outscored the Raptors 58-44 in the paint and caused them to turn it over 15 times.
Wembanyama was dominant protecting the rim in the first half. He blocked a career-high 5 shots, often times swallowing up attempts at the rim. This block on OG Anunoby was particularly impressive, as Wembanyama is able to absorb the contact and still block the shot.
Victor Wembanyama makes this block look so easy.— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 5, 2023
Keldon Johnson led the way for the Spurs offensively. He had 26 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Johnson was relentless attacking the rim, and showed some great touch on a few floaters over the Raptor’s length.
The Spurs were cooking offensively with multiple high performers. Malaki Branham scored 16 points while Zach Collins had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. They shot 49.5% from the field and 31.3% from deep. Defensively, they held Toronto to 35 points in the first half, and just over 30% shooting from the field.
They faced a very different Toronto team in the second half. The Raptors came out aggressive, using their length and strength to harass the Spurs ball-handlers with pressure and attack the paint.
“We knew they would come back in the second half with that pressure,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game. “Hopefully in the future we handle that a bit better.”
The Spurs turned the ball over 16 times, often getting disrupted by Toronto’s pressure defense. The Raptors played a full court man-to-man press for a bulk of the second half.
On top of that, the Raptors caught fire in the second half, hitting 12 shots from deep. They shot 39.6% from three overall. When Wembanyama was off the court, they attacked the Spurs drop defense, and got easy looks for Dennis Schroeder and Jakob Poeltl in the pick and roll. Schroeder had 24 points, Poeltl scored 16 and had 10 rebounds.
It was the Raptors young star who made the biggest difference in the second half. Scottie Barnes has been on a roll as of late, and kept it going in San Antonio. He had 30 points (27 in the second half), 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. He hit 5 three-pointers, punishing the Spurs for leaving him open from deep.
Despite all of the Raptors advantages, the Spurs still were just a rebound a way from surviving their surge. After Johnson hit two clutch free throws to put the Spurs up two, the Raptors rushed down the floor and found an open Schroeder for three. His shot clanked off the rim, where Wembanyama seemed to have pulled down the rebound. Cedi Osman inadvertently ripped the ball from Wembanyama’s grasp, leading to a game-tying put back by Anunoby.
The Raptors went on to dominate the overtime period. Outscoring the Spurs 11-4.
“It’s a young group playing a very experience group,” Popovich said. “It’s like the biggest small team you can imagine, Toronto is with their length and athleticism. Down the stretch, scoring-wise, we had a little more trouble with their length, their aggressiveness, their ability to get in passing lanes. I think it slowed us down to the point where our offense wasn’t smooth.”
This seemed to be an example of a young team, missing one of their best players, failing to execute down the stretch. Clearly there are still lessons to be learned with 76 games left in the regular season. The Spurs fall to 3-3, and get a chance to bounce back on Monday in Indianapolis against the Pacers.
- The Spurs didn’t get the clutch performance from Wembanyama that they have become accustomed to. He didn’t sub back into the game until the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter, and didn’t get a single shot attempt in those minutes. The Spurs tried to find ways to get him the basketball, but Toronto was keying in on him, making sure he didn’t have a chance to score. The rookie still had an impressive game, putting up 20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists to go along with his 5 blocks. He had all of the Spurs points in the overtime period. San Antonio still has some work to do finding ways to get him the ball in the clutch.
- It was not a great game for either of the Spurs point guards. Jeremy Sochan had 4 points, 5 assists and 3 turnovers, while Tre Jones had 6 points, 6 assists and 3 turnovers. They both were -7 in their minutes. The Raptors pressure seemed to bother both of them, as they couldn’t find a flow in the second half. The Spurs will look for more consistency from that position moving forward.
- Branham got out of his slump and filled into the starting lineup well. Pop praised his defensive effort, as well as his ability to make shots. Branham was lethal in the mid-range, where he scored most of his 16 points. San Antonio had him running of screens and handoffs, getting him easy looks in the half court. It’s a promising sign from the sophomore who struggled to start the season.
Play of the game
This cross-court pass from Wemby to KJ at the shot clock buzzer was the moment where it seemed like San Antonio would clutch this one out. It was a great moment.
Next game: at Pacers on Monday
The Spurs will fly to Indianapolis to take on the Pacers Monday night. Popovich told reporters he has no plans to sit anyone on the back-to-back.