In a wild one at Scotiabank Arena, the San Antonio Spurs used a big rally to earn a one-point win over the Toronto Raptors after trailing by as many as 18 points.
It was a big night for former Raptors as DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 25 points (21 in the second half) while Rudy Gay scored 15 points and Marco Belinelli hit the clutch 3-pointer that put the Spurs up for good late.
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For Toronto, Serge Ibaka finished with a monster 21-point, 14-rebound double-double to lead the way while Norman Powell (20) and Pascal Siakam (15) had big moments in their first game back from injury. Kyle Lowry also recorded a major double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Ultimately, it wasn't enough, as the Spurs outscored the Raptors 36-22 in the final frame.
With that in mind, here are some takeaways from this game.
A frenetic finish
If you need any reminder that basketball is a game of runs, rewind the tape of this game.
With 9:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, Toronto held an 87-73 lead over San Antonio. The Spurs then responded with a 27-4 run to build a nine-point lead with under three minutes remaining.
The Raptors' response was next.
Kyle Lowry hits a 3. Raptors get a stop. Then Norman Powell his a 3. Raptors get a stop. Then Serge Ibaka hits a 3 to tie things up at 100. Raptors get a stop.
A free throw from Pascal Siakam makes it a 10-0 run and gave the Raptors a one-point lead.
For all of 13 seconds.
On the ensuing possession, former Raptor DeMar DeRozan drove and kicked it out to former Raptor Marco Belinelli, who knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Spurs up by two points with 28.8 seconds remaining.
For the lead 👌@marcobelinelli | #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/UQRfDnSf2e- San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 13, 2020
After Pascal Siakam missed a clean look to tie it, DeRozan calmly hit two free throws to put his team up by four.
It was too little, too late for the Raptors, who hit a 3 to cut it to one and had a chance to win after two missed free throws from LaMarcus Aldrige. The Spurs used a 36-point fourth quarter that included 17 unanswered points to take this one.
DeRozan sparks second-half surge
DeMar DeRozan entered the half with just three points (on 1-for-4 shooting) in 14 minutes of action.
The third quarter marked a huge shift.
DeRozan scored 14 points (on 5-6 FG, 4-4 FT) in the third quarter alone, demonstrating a heightened assertiveness and aggression in getting to the rim. This aggression was epitomized by his dunk-of-the-year candidate.
DEMAR 😱 DEROZAN #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/is72V9ryYb- San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 13, 2020
The dunk energized the Spurs bench, who followed suit and made their presence felt in the final frame.
DeRozan finished the game with 25 points (on 7-for-12 shooting) and hit 11 straight free throws after missing his first three attempts. The four-time All-Star also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out four assists, including a big one to Marco Belinelli down the stretch.
While it wasn't much of a surprise when Norman Powell was ruled as probable Sunday, it was big news when it was revealed that both he and Pascal Siakam would return to the starting lineup after missing the team's last 11 games.
Talk about an immediate impact.
While rust is always a concern with players that return from extended time, it didn't appear to be much of an issue for Siakam early on, as he scored the first bucket of the game en route to 12 points in the opening frame.
From then on, things got a bit tricky for the 2019 Most Improved Player, as he scored just three points over the final three quarters to finish with 15 (on 6-for-17 shooting). Siakam looked to be a bit more out of rhythm in the second half as he missed a few close looks with his back to the basket down the stretch.
Rust didn't seem to be much of an issue for Powell, either, as he scored seven points (on 3-for-5 shooting) in the first half and kept going in the second, finishing with 20 points on a tidy 8-for-14 shooting from the field.
It didn't result in a win vs. the Spurs, but having these two back in the lineup will pay big dividends for this Raptors team moving forward.
The Raptors will have two days off before they're back in action when they make the one-game trip to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday. This should give Toronto much needed time to continue to get players healthy and work to shake off the apparent rust with both Siakam and Powell.
San Antonio heads to South Beach where it will take on the Miami Heat on Wednesday after a two-day break of its own.
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