The short-handed Raptors started out strong and fizzled out quickly against the heavily favored Spurs on Tuesday night in Toronto losing 116-103. However, the game was never really this close after half, veteran teammates, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, leading their team in scoring once again.
The Raptors only had 10 players available after trading Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy to Sacramento yesterday. D.J. Augustin was cut to make room for the 4 players coming back from the Kings, however, the new additions wouldn’t be available until after tonight. Tyler Hansbrough was still recuperating from a sprained shoulder as well, so Toronto was missing 2 of their regular rotation players.
Competing backup point guards Julyan Stone and Dwight Buycks received playing time as did seldom-used Austin Daye. Terrence Ross got the start in place of Gay instead of the more experienced Landry Fields who had started in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Toronto got off to a fast start 6-2 start and the Raptors lead just kept slowly growing until it was 36-24 at the end of the first quarter.
In typical Raptors fashion, Kyle Lowry passed the ball to Jonas Valanciunas on their first possession for a dunk and Toronto kept going back to Valanciunas in the early going. The Raptors big men seemed to enjoy the absence of Spurs starting center Tiago Splitter as both Valanciunas and Amir Johnson scored 10 first quarter points. Toronto even dominated on the glass, out rebounding the Spurs 13-6.
The Spurs play appeared slower and more methodical than usual in the first quarter, but as Toronto went to their depleted bench and the Spurs brought out their impressive supporting cast, this game changed in a hurry.
The second quarter began with a 19-4 Spurs run aided by 3 Raptors turnovers and in reality, one should have just stuck a fork in the Raptor, it was cooked. Led by 28 points from their bench, the Spurs just kept coming and went into the second half leading 59-53. It was second year center Aron Baynes coming in off the bench who slowed the Raptors big men. Plus, Toronto turned the ball over 7 times in the quarter and their depleted bench had all of 2 points.
San Antonio opens the second half with a 6-2 run and cruised through the quarter up by 6 to 10 points until a Duncan dunk with 3 minutes left led to a 10-3 run and a 15 point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Baynes embarrassed Valanciunas with a shoulder-fake to drive for an uncontested dunk of his own. Toronto’s rebounding advantage was gone at this point. Each team had 28 boards.
Within 2 minutes, the Spurs were up by 20 points in the fourth quarter and extended garbage time was underway. Ginobili led the Spurs with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists. Parker had 15 points and 6 assists. Duncan, Danny Green and Baynes had 14 points each. The Spurs bench scored 61 points and no one on the Spurs played 30 minutes.
Johnson finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds and DeRozan had 19 points and 7 assists. Valanciunas, with 14 points, didn’t score after the first quarter until there was less than 2 minutes to go in the game as he was out played by Baynes. Ross hit 4 three-pointers, but shot 4-13 to log his 14 points. Lowry had 11 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Buycks had 10 points, 5 boards and 3 assists in the second half. The Raptors bench picked it up in the second half, finishing with 26 points in extended but meaningless minutes.
Toronto plays the 76ers at home on Friday and visits Chicago on Saturday.
The Spurs visit Milwaukee on Wednesday, return home to face Minnesota on Friday and then are back out on the road Saturday to play the Jazz.