Just when it looked like the San Antonio Spurs had things on track, they took another step back in a home loss to Phoenix on Friday. Now, things really get tough for the perplexing Spurs as they host surging Toronto on Sunday afternoon.
San Antonio sleepwalked through the second quarter on Friday, allowing the Suns to forge a 29-9 run that turned a seven-point lead into a 12-point halftime deficit from which it never recovered in a 103-99 loss.
Toronto, on the other hand, garnered a 118-112 win on the road over New York on Friday that stretched its winning streak to six games.
It would be easy, based on past performances, to think Sunday’s dustup would favor the Raptors (31-14), who have the hot hand.
But as enigmatic as San Antonio has been this year, the Spurs (20-24) have played some of their best basketball against the NBA’s top teams — in fact, the last team to beat the Raptors was San Antonio, a 105-104 decision in Toronto on Jan. 12.
The Spurs had won three straight for only the second time this season before running aground against Phoenix. The victory snapped an 11-game losing streak in San Antonio for Phoenix, which hadn’t won in the Alamo City since Feb. 27, 2013.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points and Derrick White tallied 13 for San Antonio, which is 6-4 in its past 10 outings.
“The second quarter was a killer,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Their physicality (was critical). They got up into us in the second quarter. We had seven turnovers, and that really kicked us. We fought back hard. Guys did a great job.
“We had three or four wide-open threes late in the game that didn’t go down. Had we played better in the second quarter, maybe we wouldn’t have been in that position.”
Toronto held off a late Knicks rally on Friday thanks to Kyle Lowry’s game-high 26 points and 23 from Pascal Siakam. Those two players combined to score the final 12 points — seven by Siakam and five by Lowry — for the Raptors.
Fred VanVleet scored 16 points while Norman Powell (16) and Serge Ibaka (14) reached double digits off the bench for Toronto.
“We’re making the reads where they are, and we’re taking what’s there,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse told the Toronto Star. “There usually are one or two guys that are going to be consistently up in numbers. But it’s been nice to see all these guys going 15, 16, 18 points, a bunch of guys each night. It’s good.”
Siakam, a day after being named an NBA All-Star starter for the first time, canned a clutch 3-pointer in the waning seconds to help secure the win.
“At that moment of the game, I know I’m asked to be that person and I’m comfortable with doing that,” Siakam said. “I just have to continue to play. I just have to be myself and trust the work that I put in.”
The Spurs own a 34-13 all-time edge over Toronto that includes a 19-4 advantage at home. San Antonio has not lost to the Raptors in the Alamo City since Dec. 28, 2007, a 10-game winning streak.
–Field Level Media