NBA: Mix-and-match Spurs get next test vs. Raptors
The San Antonio Spurs will have to call on their depth when they play host to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
The Spurs have won five of their past six games, including the first two of a four-game homestand. The latest came in a 107-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. Keldon Johnson paced San Antonio with 25 points and Doug McDermott added 23 off the bench for the shorthanded Spurs.
San Antonio’s 5-2 start is tied for its second-best record ever after seven games.
The Spurs led 85-70 heading into the fourth quarter Sunday before a Wolves rally closed the deficit to 87-84 early in the period. San Antonio held on thanks to the final of seven 3-pointers from McDermott, tying his career high for a game, and two late Johnson free throws.
Keita Bates-Diop scored 18 points for San Antonio, while Tre Jones had 10 and Jakob Poeltl grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. The Spurs played without starters Devin Vassell (knee) and Jeremy Sochan (illness), while key reserves Josh Richardson (back) and Isaiah Roby (illness) also were out.
“We got bumps and bruises, but we keep fighting,” Johnson said. “We kept playing as a team. It’s hard, but I feel that if you can look to the left and look to the right you see your brothers, people that you grind with all summer, in the gym constantly every day. You make it fun.”
Rookie guard Blake Wesley tore the MCL in his left knee and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Wesley was in the rotation and was set to receive added playing time after the Spurs released guard Joshua Primo on Friday.
The Raptors head to San Antonio for the only time this season after a 139-109 rout of the Atlanta Hawks at home Monday. Pascal Siakam led the way for Toronto with 31 points and 12 rebounds in a back-and-forth game that saw the Raptors give up the lead midway through the second quarter then answer with a 13-0 run.
Toronto led by 11 points at the half and by 15 after three quarters before pulling away in the final period. Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. each scored 21 points as Toronto won for the third time in its last four games. O.G. Anunoby had 14 points.
Toronto coach Nick Nurse praised his team’s defense against Atlanta and the willingness to get into passing lanes.
“The goal was to challenge every pass and try to keep pursuing every shot as well, and we did,” Nurse said. “We did a good job of that. There wasn’t a whole lot of wide-open stuff, so we got our hands on a lot of balls.
“What did we create, 18 turnovers? And there were probably another half a dozen just-abouts where we knocked the ball away and didn’t quite come away with it.”
The Raptors played without Fred VanVleet, who was out with a sore back. VanVleet’s availability Wednesday will be a game-time decision. He is currently listed as questionable.
–Field Level Media