The Toronto Raptors’ first taste of Wembymania was a rollercoaster ride. The Raptors had to erase a 22-point deficit just to force a thriller in the fourth before pulling off an upset in overtime, defeating the San Antonio Spurs, 123-116.
There was no 38-point Victor Wembanyama game, as the Raptors slowed him down with a combination of terrible team defense and half-court offense through the first 30 minutes that allowed his teammates to get the buckets in. With all eyes on Wembanyama, it was Scottie Barnes who took the spotlight in the second half, imposing his will and leading the first big Raptors’ comeback win of the season.
Scottie Barnes was the clear-cut star of the night (day?) with 30 points, 11 boards, six dimes, three steals, and three blocks. He also made a career-high five trifectas, and listing all of these stats felt like an injustice to how he impacted the game today. O.G. Anunoby also broke his career-high in three-point makes in a game, with seven, leading to 24 points, seven boards, to go along with his pretty good job defending Wembanyama. Dennis Schroder provided stability in the backcourt, especially early in the game, with 24 points and six dimes.
13.5 seconds left, Scottie Barnes has scored 25 of his 28 points in the 2nd half & 17 of the Raptors' 37 in the quarter.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) November 5, 2023
It's the most he's scored in a half in his career. pic.twitter.com/R7AMNvnqnH
Keldon Johnson repeatedly shredded the Raptors’ defense en route to 26 points, while Victor Wembanyama chipped in 20 points, nine boards, four dimes, and five blocks. Zach Collins also had another strong game for the Spurs, adding 21 points, 11 boards, and five dimes. I guess that’s why coach Greg Popovich called his number a lot down the stretch, even though he’s got Wembanyama and Johnson on the floor.
It was a tale of two halves for the Raptors, as they looked listless on both ends of the court for this matinee game. Wembanyama’s presence in the paint threw a fit on the Raptors’ offense in the first half, but plenty of their issues were self-inflicted. The Raptors shot 31.7% from the field in the first half while allowing the Spurs a Nexus pass to the basket for 52.3%. The Raptors’ perimeter shooting carried their offense for the most part, shooting a scorching 19-for-48 from the perimeter compared to the Spurs’ 10-for-32.
The Raptors’ offensive and defensive adjustments in the second half led to a much better return over the next two periods. Still, without Scottie Barnes anchoring this team (and with a healthy contribution from the bench) and refusing to lose in the second half, we could be talking about a much different game. Pascal Siakam continues to struggle but hit a clutch trifecta in OT. Still, coach Darko Rajakovic needs to do a better job putting Siakam in a position to succeed offensively, as the issue is not whether Barnes and Siakam can play together; it’s about how coach Rajakovic can put his best two players in a position to succeed offensively.
Hell of a comeback by the Raptors. Scottie Barnes is happening.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) November 5, 2023
Barnes stats today vs. the Spurs:
Team-high +14 in 42 minutes pic.twitter.com/xDpA2q3CUf
The game started sloppy for both teams, but the Raptors took advantage early, with Anunoby’s three-pointer from the top of the key getting them an early 7-2 lead. However, the Raptors’ defense allowed the Spurs to go on an 8-0 run to take a 10-7 lead. The Raptors had several opportunities to seize control of the game early, thanks to Schroder’s play, but Siakam’s off to an ugly start.
Instead, the Raptors got caught in WembyMania, and saw how much of a cheat code he is. His first play back in the game, he caught a pass from the top of the key — moving to his left — and swished a trifecta for an and-1. Anunoby would have been close enough to contest the shot if it was your typical big wing, but he was nowhere close. Up next, he faked a handoff and took two steps for a dunk. In the next play, Anunoby challenged him in the post, only for Anunoby’s shot to get swallowed by Wembanyama.
Despite the Wembymania, the Raptors’ perimeter shooting found its pulse late in the quarter and survived the first frame with a 22-26 deficit.
The Spurs’ defense tightened after the break, as coach Rajakovic’s 0.5 offense continued to self-destruct while simultaneously allowing the Spurs’ non-Wembanyama minutes to build a 17-point lead. Several Raptors bricks later, Siakam set up Poeltl for a floater to put an end to an 11-0 run. Wembanyama got back in late in the period and splashed a trifecta, but thanks to Siakam’s ability in the drive-and-kick Anunoby was set up for a pair of three-pointers to keep the Spurs from blowing this game open. Toronto ended the first half with a 35-54 deficit.
The Raptors found their half-court offense via Poeltl to start the second half, but couldn’t stop the Spurs on the defensive end. Siakam finally got his first basket on an and-1. The Spurs continued to shred the Raptors’ defense, and it wasn’t even Wembanyama doing the damage. Barnes, Anunoby, and the bench made one more push late in the third to keep the game close enough, trailing the Spurs, 71-86.
Anunoby continued his perimeter barrage in the final frame, but Barnes imposed his will with his two-way play. His steals and heady play offensively cut the Spurs’ lead to nine, forcing coach Pop to call for time. Barnes continued his assault, hitting back-to-back threes, with the bench unit providing the energy and perimeter shooting to support him, cutting the lead to five. Coach Darko shifted to Trent Jr. and thestarters, and after cutting the lead to two, the Raptors hit a dry spell, allowing the Spurs to push their lead to eight. The Raptors fought back, and Barnes’ pull-up three tied the game at 108 with 37 seconds remaining.
Collins got in trouble in the paint, and Porter Jr. forced a jump ball. The ball was tipped out of bounds, with Siakam and Johnson going for the ball, prompting the refs to call a foul on Siakam. Coach Rajakovic challenged the call with 13 seconds remaining. After a lengthy review, the refs still managed to blow the call, as the foot-to-foot contact was incidental, with both players stepping on the same spot. Johnson made both freebies, and without calling for a timeout, Schroder went for the win. The shot bricked, but two Spurs fought for the ball, with Anunoby able to pick up the ball for a layup to tie the game with one second left.
The Spurs called for time. Poeltl subbed in not to protect the rim but to harass the inbounder. Barnes picked Sochan’s pass and immediately called for time with 0.9 seconds remaining. Barnes’ turnaround fadeaway hook? shot? didn’t go in, and we’re headed for extra time.
Siakam opened up OT with a corner three, but Wembanyama responded with a fadeaway middy. Porter Jr. and Schroder airballed a three on the same possession. Collins bricked a three-pointer while Poeltl got the putback off Siakam’s miss. The Spurs called (why??) for a Collins postup that bricked. Schroder found Anunoby for a corner trifecta for his career-high 3PM and a 118-112 lead, prompting a Spurs timeout.
NEW career-high in 3s for OG pic.twitter.com/cyjhI374gf— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 5, 2023
Wembanyama and Schroder traded middy, but Schroder lost the ball on the next possession, leading to Tre Jones’ floater in transition. The Raptors played hot potato, ending in a clock violation, but Webanyama’s three-point attempt rolled out. The Spurs sent Anunoby to the line with 16 seconds remaining and managed to split his freebies to give the Raptors a five-point lead. Coach Pop called for time and drew up a play for Doug McDermott, but his perimeter attempt bricked, and that’s the game.