The Raptors had a rematch with the San Antonio Spurs last night in DeMar DeRozan's first game back in Toronto since being traded this past summer.
The trade has worked out well for both teams, with DeRozan being a key piece for a Spurs team vying for a playoff spot and former Spurs, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, performing wonderfully for the second-place Raptors.
The Raptors' first game since the All-Star break went down to the wire, but the Raptors were able to pull out the win, 120-117, thanks to a clutch steal and dunk by Kawhi.
Here are my takeaways from that game:
1. DeMar's Homecoming Did Not Disappoint
Unlike with other former Raptors like Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, who were both booed relentlessly upon their return, DeMar DeRozan, who always loved the city and the fans, and never wanted to leave Toronto, was met with all the love in the world when he arrived in Toronto.
As soon as he stepped on the court, DeRozan was greeted with an uproar of applause. Ditto for when he scored his first bucket. Ditto x10 for when he raised a hand in acknowledgement to the fans after witnessing his tribute video from the organization, who stood and clapped and screamed for what felt like the next five minutes.
Emotion aside, the game itself was incredible. After going back and forth all night, the game finished with a three-point eked-out Raptors victory.
2. The Spurs' Three-Point Shooting Was On All Night Long; Toronto's Was Better
The Spurs were shooting the lights out from deep last night, and that fact was almost the Raptors' killer. Davis Bertans (4-6 from deep) and Marco Belinelli (5-12 from deep) carried the load, but Rudy Gay, Bryn Forbes, and Patty Mills all contributed a three of their own.
The difference in the game was the Raptors' ability to just drain a few more shots late in the game than the Spurs. Pascal Siakam was 2-2 from deep, OG Anunoby was 3-3, Kyle Lowry was 3-6, and Danny Green was 5-7. The Raptors hit more threes and did it more efficiently, making up for their horrid shooting night from inside the arc.
3. Kawhi Struggled, Toronto Pulled out the Win Despite
Kawhi Leonard had one of his worst games all season against the Spurs. He had the clutch steal to go with 25 points and 6 boards, but those 25 came on 8-23 shooting from the field, 0-4 from deep.
However, what was a frustrating night for Kawhi translated to big nights for Jeremy Lin (11, 2, and 3), Serge Ibaka (13 points and 15 boards), and Kyle Lowry (17 points and 5 assists) along with the hot shooters in Siakam, OG, and Danny Green.
The Spurs' bench unit, thanks to Bertans, Belinelli, and Mills, outscored the Raptors' bench by a huge margin. The Raptors' starters did more than enough to make up for that and get the W.
A stroke of luck did help the Raptors win as well though. A foul was called on Kawhi Leonard with the Raptors up by a point, essentially sealing the game with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. Kawhi caught the ball in the frontcourt, and took two steps into the backcourt before any Spur was able to breathe on him. The ref definitely missed a call there, and, to make matters worse, he was right next to the play when it happened.
Raptors fans will take the win in any way, shape, or form though.
Toronto hosts the Magic tomorrow in a Sunday afternoon game, while the Spurs have the Knicks in New York later that night.