Unfamiliar Territory

It was a Boxing day battle on Saturday night for the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs. Toronto, who are coming off a home opener loss, faced a Spurs team coming off a home opener win. It was a closely contested match down the stretch, with San Antonio coming out with the 119-114 win.

Led by former Raptor, DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs handed the Raptors their 2nd loss of the season. In their last 4 matchups, DeRozan has averaged 20.7 points and 8 rebounds against his former team. In 36 minutes, he scored 27 points on 10 of 17 shooting with 8 assists and 5 rebounds. DeRozan has been consistently good against the Raptors and tonight was no different.

In 29 minutes off the bench, Patty Mills was the difference maker. He scored 21 points on 88.9% shooting. He was lights out from beyond the arc, and provided the Spurs with the lift they needed to get the win.

Tonight’s loss is unfamiliar territory for most of the Raptors. This is the first time Nick Nurse has fallen under .500 in his tenure with the Raptors. The last time the team fell to two games below .500 was December 2013. But 2013-2014 was also the year Toronto’s winning culture began.

Despite the loss, there were stand-out performances by Chris Boucher and Fred VanVleet. Continuing from his solid game 1 performance, Boucher is showing why the Raptors offered him a 2 year, $13.5M extension. He did it from both ends of the floor, scoring 22 points on 69% shooting, with a career-high 7 blocked shots. He shot 3 of 4 from deep, and provided the Raptors with the intensity they lacked in their home opener. VanVleet bounced back from a tough shooting night in game 1. He scored 27 points and was 1 assist shy of a double double.

In Saturday’s loss, Toronto was out-rebounded 53 to 46, with 14 of those coming off the offensive boards. In the 1st quarter the Raptors scored 22 points in paint, but settled for 3’s as the game when on. They continue to struggle from deep, shooting 37% on 15 made three’s.

Positive note: In Saturdays loss, all 5 Raptor starters scored in double digits.

Next up… Toronto faces Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Arena.

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