Title: Persistent issues sank the Raptors against the Spurs as much as DeMar DeRozan did
Date: January 4, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about a poor Raptors performance against DeMar DeRozan that highlighted some consistent issues the team’s been dealing with.
The Raptors’ ineptitude against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday couldn’t even save them from one fitting indignity. It appeared that DeMar DeRozan might sit for the final 13:36 of the game, precluding him from recording the final assist he needed for his first career triple-double, only for the Raptors to hang around the 20-point marker just long enough to necessitate DeRozan’s re-entry midway through the fourth quarter. Almost immediately, DeRozan fed LaMarcus Aldridge for a midrange jumper.
That DeRozan was as dominant as he was in his first game against his former team was, quite obviously, the A-1 story. It was an emotionally charged game for the entire Spurs side, beginning with a tribute video the team showed for Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard before tip-off and then large cheers (Green) and boos (Leonard) as the players were introduced. The energy in the AT&T Center was tremendous early, and that seemed to fuel DeRozan, who played like he was still all the way in his feelings in the absolute best sense. DeRozan hit the glass hard, found opportunities to dunk or draw and-1s against switches and created well for teammates, finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
It was surely a nice moment for DeRozan, a decisive victory in one of two chances he’ll get against the team that sent him unwillingly away from the only city where he’d ever wanted to play. In the time since he left, he’s improved even more as a playmaker, and his first triple-double likely, to him, affirms his message that he would have continued growing with Toronto. You can’t help but feel good for him for the night he had.