The Toronto Raptors got off to a great start tonight but couldn't keep the momentum going as the ever-savvy San Antonio Spurs ran away with a 116 to 103 win in the end. The Dinos started off scorching, 36 first quarter points, but allowed 35 from the Spurs in the following quarter and after that, it was all San Antonio.
For the second straight game, the Raptors' offense looked much improved as the club finished with 23 assists (season average is 17.4) and showed off some much improved ball movement, meaning easy looks for a bevy of players. DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Kyle Lowry all got involved early and again, Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson dominated down low.
But that was the starting group. (Yes, Ross got the nod tonight.)
The bench...that's another story.
An already shallow Toronto bench group has of course shrunk even further thanks to the Rudy Gay trade and it showed this evening as the Spurs pine crew outscored that of the Raptors 61 to 26.
The Spurs sport possibly the best bench in the league so it was no surprise that as the game wore on, the Raptors faded, while the folks from Texas only seemed to get stronger by the possession.
San Antonio had eight players score 8 or more points as a testament to their depth, and were lights out from long-range, hitting 13 of their 23 shots.
The Raptors got another stellar game from Amir Johnson (19 points, 9 rebounds, 9 of 11 shooting) and solid outings from Kyle Lowry (11 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (19 points, 7 assists) but that was about it. We're not going to get into the Landry Fieldses and the Dwight Buyckseseses in this one.
Although in some ways, maybe we should as while the starters were quite solid, the bench are likely the ones who will figure most prominently in deciding how far this team falls into the East's basement, and therefore how high they climb on NBA Draft Lottery Mountain.
Tonight they had all their hiking equipment at the ready and of course playing a team like San Antonio only helps in the ascent.
The next two games against Philadelphia and Chicago (both 2 and 8 in their last 10) might represent a very different story.