The Toronto Raptors were able to improve their record to 14-9 as they won their second straight game with a 3 point 97-94 win over the highly ranked San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were coming in off a 51 point victory two nights ago and had the trio of Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili all return after they were rested in the win against Philadelphia. The Toronto Raptors were still without key starters Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll so Bismack Biyombo and Terrence Ross continued to start.
This time Toronto did not dig themselves into an early hole and instead found themselves with a 6 point lead at the end of the first. A very back and forth second quarter had the Raptors eventually up by 7 with DeMar DeRozan having put in 16 points as the Raptors were benefiting from a surprising amount of Spurs turnovers. A defensively solid third quarter in which the Raptors were able to resist a classic high ball movement Spurs offense opened up an 11 point lead heading into the final quarter. It was than the Spurs made their run as they ate away at the Raptors lead but were never able to take over.
The Raptors played a hard 48 minutes and never relinquished their lead to the Spurs.
Its no secret that San Antonio have a good defense so 97 overall points is not at all bad. Tonight so much of the success came through the ability to drive to the basket. Almost everyone was getting in on the scoring as the Raptors continued to attack in the lane, either going all the way or dishing out for an open shot. When it was needed everyone seemed capable of putting points on the board.
DeRozan led the way with 28 as he went 10-15 from the field while Kyle Lowry gave out 8 assists as he scored a solid 19, Luis Scola found success in the paint on his way to 16 points and Bismack Biyombo went 5-7 to give himself 10 points. Dwane Casey kept rotations extremely tight for an already shorthanded squad, electing to only play 8 players.
It will always be a must when playing the Spurs to force tough shots and gain key turnovers. The Raptors were solid tonight in being able to get that done. Its common knowledge the Spurs like to move the ball and have multiple players capable of shooting so the Raptors would have to stay strong and not run out of puff especially without Carroll in the line up. The Spurs were heavily reliant on Ginobili tonight as he and Leonard tried to take over down the stretch. Toronto dug in however finding a way to disrupt the Spurs fluency making them force up shots from less than ideal positions. San Antonio was able to get some open looks but luckily tonight could not find their range, shooting 44% from the field and 26% from beyond the arc as a resilient Raptors team held them to just 94 points.
Too many times San Antonio was able to get a second or even third chance on offense as the Raptors were out rebounded 34-35. The Spurs hauled in 13 offensive rebounds and no Raptor was able to get more than 8 individually. When it mattered most though during the key drive by Lowry, Toronto through DeRozan was able to get one of just their four offensive boards, this put away what had been a very close game. Part of the reason for the low rebounding was Toronto’s high shooting stats as they went 57% from the field.
Game Ball: DeMar DeRozan
Tonight he was able to take over the game and get his team over the line in a tough contest. He did still need help from Kyle Lowry and friends but it was DeRozan who hit the drive to give the Raptors an all important 5 point two possession lead with just over a minute to play. He also came out with the rebound that allowed the Raptors fans to finally exhale as the team came away with a big W.