SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs earned a 101-97 win over the Toronto Raptors at the AT&T Center on Monday night, improving to 3-0 on the young season.
The Silver and Black struggled with the Raptors defense all night long, but it was one instance that seemed to provide a spark to the Spurs. After Danny Green made a floater in the paint, Aldridge and Toronto forward Serge Ibaka had words. Aldridge then shoved Ibaka, causing teammates Kyle Anderson, Brandon Paul, and Dejounte Murray to hold him back. The scrum resulted in an 11-0 San Antonio run to take control of the game.
Here is what went good and bad in the Spurs’ win as well as three standout players, Aldridge, Murray, and Anderson.
- San Antonio faced their first solid defensive team in the Raptors on Monday and they did not back down. Despite not having Kawhi Leonard or Tony Parker in the lineup, the Spurs get pace with the Raptors and would ultimately use their signature Spurs defense in the final quarter to seal the win.
- Dejounte Murray is the real deal. More on that in the standout players section.
- LaMarcus Aldridge continues to play well three games into the season. On Monday night he not only sparked the team, but made several defensive plays to ensure the win.
- Toronto’s defense visibly bothered the Spurs early on. The Raptors bigs clogged the lane, making it difficult for Aldridge and Gasol to get the ball clean in the post.
- Like Saturday in Chicago, San Antonio played sloppy in the first half. The Spurs had poor shot selections and turning the ball over 20 times in the game, a season high.
Three Standout Players:
Dejounte Murray: When he was drafted last season by the Spurs, experts said Murray was a steal with the No. 29 pick. Three games into the season, he is proving everyone correct. The sophomore guard continues to impress and fill in for the injured Tony Parker nicely. Murray finished with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting (50 percent) and had a career-high 14 rebounds. Murray showed no fear going up against Toronto All-Star guard Kyle Lowry. He held Lowry to just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and on the offensive end, Murray impressed. He made key shots and sliced and diced his way through the Toronto defense during a pivotal moment in the fourth quarter with San Antonio desperate for a bucket.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge finished with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting along with eight rebounds. However, it was his play in the fourth quarter that truly stood out. He scored 10 of his 20 points in the final 12 minutes, including six straight after his scrap with Ibaka. Aldridge played his brand of ‘bully ball’ as he backed down Ibaka for the hoop and the harm, causing the Toronto forward to foul out of the game.
Aldridge may have not had his best shooting game of the season, but it is the little things that don’t go in the box score that mattered on Monday. He held the fort down with Pau Gasol in the paint against Toronto backup big man Lucas Nogueira. Aldridge also finished the game with a block and a steal, while hitting 87 percent of his shots from the free throw line.
Kyle Anderson: The former UCLA Bruin finished 4-of-9 from the floor for 10 points in the game. Anderson started in place of the injured Kawhi Leonard on Monday and once again came up big late, proving why Head Coach Gregg Popovich continues to place his trust in him.
With the Spurs holding a slim three point lead with less than three minutes to go in the game, Anderson found a lane and converted a lay in. putting the Silver and Black up five. The forward also key steals and used his length to disrupt plays and grab rebounds.
Anderson’s two big buckets in the fourth quarter proved to be huge for the Spurs, effectively putting another win in the bag for San Antonio early in the season.
Up next: The Spurs will now open up a four-game road trip with their first stop coming on Wednesday night in Miami against the 2-1 Heat at the AmericanAirlines Arena at 7 p.m.