The Toronto Raptors bounced back nicely from Saturday night's loss to Miami by defeating the San Antonio Spurs, 82-76, in the second game of their Summer League schedule. Although the Raptors did their best to blow a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter - the Spurs took advantage of sloppy turnovers to cut it to a 2-point game with under a minute left - Jonas Valanciunas made some big free-throws down the stretch to ensure that his team held on for the win.
The teams were tied, 39-39, at the end of the first half, before a 15-4 run at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, led by Valanciunas and Toronto's impressive bench (more about them later), opened the game up.
The Spurs were led by Toronto's own, Cory Joseph, who finished the game with 16 points and 6 assists; as well as their immensely impressive rookie from Ohio State, Deshaun Thomas. Thomas, the 58th pick in the draft (which might as well be a lottery pick for the resourceful Spurs), was a threat from the outside and in the paint. Nando de Colo, incase anyone was wondering, was absolutely woeful. He shot 3-15 from the field, and turned the ball over with regularity.
...but on to the Raptors.
Toronto was once again led in scoring by the aforementioned Valanciunas, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Although he filled the box score, Jonas wasn't quite the impressive offensive force that he was against Miami the previous night. This was partly down to the fact that he was up against a much more physical presence in New Zealander Aron Baynes, who did a decent job of bodying up Valanciunas and preventing him getting close to the basket. On Saturday night against Miami, Valanciunas looked like a man amongst boys, but against the Spurs that gulf wasn't as pronounced.
That being said, the big Lithuanian stayed aggressive all night. He hit a couple nice running hooks, and was able to get to the line fairly consistently. One minor complaint, however: At times Jonas spins for the sake of spinning. It would've been nice to have seen him mix up his game a little more by facing-up Baynes and taking a couple jumpers-jumpers that would've possibly made his shot-fake more effective.
While Valanciunas continued to impress (for the most part), Terrence Ross finally joined the Summer League party. Against Miami, possibly because he was recovering from leg cramps (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt), he looked fairly passive at both ends of the floor. But against the Spurs he came out strong, scoring 7 points in the 1st quarter and finishing the game with 14 points, on 6-11 shooting, and 6 boards. Ross looked for his shot early and was more aggressive driving to the basket, and cutting. He was even barking instructions on defense. It was a much-improved effort, but the sort that's expected of him at this level.
The other Raptor that's expected to play a significant role in the coming season is of course, Quincy Acy, and he had a so-so night. Acy began the game with a shot from about 20 feet that was, somewhat predictably, off the mark. But to his credit, Acy did try and put the ball on the floor for most of the night and got to the line, even though he struggled once he was there. Acy looks like a player struggling to find his niche - at times it looked like he was uncomfortably auditioning for a small-forward role. He was also exposed defensively when Baynes and Dexter Pittman (yep, Dexter Pittman) backed him down in the low post. But far more disappointing was the fact that he only finished with three rebounds.
And rebounding, as well as sloppy turnovers down the stretch, almost cost the Raptors the game. Toronto shot well all night, finishing 48% from the floor (in contrast, the Spurs were a woeful 35%), but extra possessions kept San Antonio in the game. They snared 18 offensive rebounds (mainly thanks to Baynes and Pittman who combined for eight of them) to the Raptors' six, and outrebounded the Raptors 43-32, overall.
But while the Raptors struggled on the boards, they made up for that deficiency with copious amounts of scoring off the bench. D-League All-Star Micah Downs chipped in with 11 points, while Devoe Joseph - who was up against his brother Cory - knocked down a couple big shots. Most impressive, however, was Chris Wright. Wright went 6-8 from the field, finishing with 13 points, and was a big part of the Raptors' 15-4 run that blew the game wide open early in the fourth.
Wright, who also looked good against the Heat on Saturday, brought plenty of energy to the floor, and varied his game nicely. He hit shots from mid-range, put the ball on the deck and drove, and cut well off the ball. He also made a great play on San Antonio's Marcus Denmon, stealing the ball and dunking in transition. (Click "Right Place, Wright Time Video to the right.) At this stage Wright looks like a guy who could contribute in a regular-season Raptors rotation, with his athleticism and energy. He's definitely a player to keep an eye on as the Raptors move forward in Vegas.
And move forward they will, as they face the Sacramento Kings in their 3rd game on Tuesday.