Raptors solid in downing Spurs

The Canadian Press

TORONTO—From the opening tip-off to the final buzzer, the Toronto Raptors finally played with the consistency coach Dwane Casey has been crying out for.
And it paid off with a victory over one of the NBA’s best teams.
DeMar DeRozan netted 28 points as the Raptors led from the outset last night en route to a 97-94 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
“Playing both ends of the floor, being efficient on the offensive end, and then turning around and playing defence with force and conviction,” noted Casey.
“I thought we played committed defence tonight for as many minutes as we possibly could, and that was huge.”
Kyle Lowry had 19 points and eight assists, Luis Scola had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Bismack Biyombo had 10 points and seven boards.
Patrick Patterson also chipped in with 10 points for Toronto (14-9).
The Raptors—missing starters DeMarre Carroll (knee contusion) and Jonas Valanciunas (broken hand)—shot 58 percent against the NBA’s best defensive team.
“We just moved the ball,” DeRozan said.
“We understood how they were going to play us and that as long as we attacked, played aggressive, and played together, we knew we would have a chance, and that’s what we did.”
Manu Ginobili led the Spurs (18-5) with 17 points while LaMarcus Aldridge had 13 and David West finished with 10.
The Raptors have been frustratingly slow and sloppy out of the gate, and had yet to put together a solid four quarters.
But they sprinted out to an 11-point first-quarter lead against the Spurs and then continued to hold their own—taking a 73-62 lead into the fourth quarter in front of a capacity Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,800.
The Spurs—second in the NBA to only the undefeated Golden State Warriors—came to life in the fourth.
And when Danny Green drained a three-pointer that circled the rim before dropping, it put San Antonio within three points with 2:47 to play.
A floating jumper by DeRozan—with two Spurs draped on him—had Toronto up by five with under a minute to play.
A put-back lay-up by Kawhi Leonard made it a three-point game with 29 seconds left, then DeRozan grabbed a huge offensive rebound with eight seconds to go to secure the victory.
“[This win] should do a lot in showing us that we compete with the best teams in the league, especially being down a couple men,” DeRozan said.
“We’ve got to use that to our advantage; to help that build our confidence,” he stressed.
The night marked Cory Joseph’s first meeting against his former team since he signed with the Raptors last summer.
The Toronto native played four years with the Spurs, including their 2014 NBA championship campaign.
“A little bit [weird],” Joseph said on facing the Spurs. “Obviously, it was the first time I’ve changed teams.
“It’s kind of to be expected,” he added. “I changed teams. A little bit of emotion, maybe.”
Joseph is averaging career highs with his new team—9.8 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.6 rebounds in 26.3 minutes a game—and is solid on the defensive end every night.
He said confidence is the biggest difference in his game.
“That’s No. 1,” Joseph stressed. “I think a lot of the NBA has to do with confidence.
“Obviously, getting consistent minutes has something to do with that and obviously, I’ve been working on my all-around game.”
The Raptors led 27-21 after the first quarter—only the second time in the past seven games they’ve led going into the second.
Toronto next hosts the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night, then wraps up its six-game homestand Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers.