In one fell swoop, we identified the reason why the Toronto Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard. A steal by Leonard led to the go-ahead bucket and the Raptors made one more defensive stop to give them a 120-117 victory on their first game back from all-star break.
Leonard scored the last four points of the game. However, it was glaring that DeRozan was in the middle of the last two Spurs’ possessions and they didn’t get anything close to a winning play, offensively.
With the Spurs leading by one, DeRozan brought the ball up towards midcourt. He slipped and fell due to the pressure and turned the ball over right into Leonard’s hand for the uncontested layup. Seconds later, DeRozan had a chance to redeem himself but he was unwilling to take a shot with about five seconds left. In turn, Davis Bertans had to take wildly contested shot from the left corner. The shot went awry and Leonard salted the game away with two free throws.
Throughout the game, DeRozan outplayed Leonard. He scored 23 points on 7 of 12 shooting. DeRozan added 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He also made all nine foul shot attempts. Yet, it wasn’t enough when the game mattered most. That one turnover could be the difference between playing in the postseason and earning a trip to the lottery.
Meanwhile, Leonard scored 25 points in the win. He only shot 8 of 25 from the field and made 9 of 10 from the foul line. Pascal Siakam scored 22 points. In all, the Raptors had six players reach double figures. Serge Ibaka provided a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
The Raptors remain a game back of the of the Milwaukee Bucks with a (44-16) record. They have won seven games in a row. The Spurs are (33-27) and in seventh place in the Western Conference. They are one game from the fifth spot. However, the Spurs are two games away from missing the playoffs entirely.
The Spurs face the New York Knicks on Sunday in their second to last game of the rodeo road trip. The Raptors host the surging Orlando Magic on Sunday.