LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray lead San Antonio Spurs past Toronto Raptors

By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 24, 2017 at 12:35 AM
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SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio might be without two of its most important pieces in the early season, but with LaMarcus Aldridge's resurgence as an aggressive offensive presence and the continuing excellent play of second-year point guard Dejounte Murray, the Spurs are barely missing a beat.

That beat goes on as Aldridge scored 20 points and Murray added 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds as San Antonio outlasted the Toronto Raptors 101-97 on Monday at the AT&T Center to remain unbeaten.

Despite the headline contribution from Aldridge and Murray, other Spurs had a huge impact in this win, especially in the end. The contest was tied at 85 with 5:55 to play before the Spurs used a Danny Green 3-pointer, two Kyle Anderson baskets and a Green turnaround hook shot to forge a 9-0 run that staked them to a 94-85 lead with 3:08 to go.

During that decisive run, Aldridge and Toronto's Serge Ibaka went chest to chest after pushing each other under the basket, with both players receiving technical fouls. Ibaka fouled out defending Aldridge's driving basket with 1:48 to play, and the ensuing free throw expanded the Spurs' lead to 97-87.

"Just an overall good win against a really well-coached, disciplined team that has a lot of expectations," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "It was good for our confidence since we are trying to put some things together."

Green had 17 points, eight rebounds and five blocks for San Antonio (3-0), which again played without injured forward Kawhi Leonard and point guard Tony Parker. Rudy Gay hit for 11 points and Anderson finished with 10 as the Spurs outrebounded Toronto 56-33 and won despite committing 20 turnovers.

"You never want to turn over the ball 20 times, but that made us realize we have a long way to go when teams pressure us the way Toronto did tonight," said San Antonio reserve guard Manu Ginobili, who added nine points. "We are trying to learn to play together again, to learn each other, and to learn to play without Kawhi. It's been three games -- we need 15 more games to get to the comfort level where we know what our teammates are going to do.

DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors (2-1) with 28 points while Ibaka and C.J. Miles added 13 points each. Jakob Poeltl tallied 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Toronto, which was playing the first of a six-game road trip.

"The game got away from us late when they got some big offensive rebounds and some put-backs and we turned the ball over," DeRozen said. "We didn't give ourselves enough opportunities at the end and we made some open shots that we usually make. We work extremely hard to get moments like these and we have to take advantage of them -- we didn't tonight."

The first half, which ended knotted at 50, featured 10 ties and eight lead changes, with neither team holding more than a six-point advantage over the first 24 minutes.

DeRozan led all scorers with 12 first-half points and Ibaka had 11 for the Raptors. Green and Gay paced the Spurs with nine points each in the first half.

The game remained tight through the third quarter, with a Patty Mills layup with eight seconds left granting the Spurs a 75-74 lead heading to the final quarter and setting the table for a furious finish.

"Rebounding was a huge issue tonight -- gave up 18 offensive rebounds for 22 points," Toronto coach Dwayne Casey said. "We worked out butts off too hard to give up second shots and that many second-chance points. We did some positive things tonight against one of the best teams in the league, but close doesn't count. We fought and we competed and we matched the physicality that San Antonio brought."

NOTES: The Spurs have not played a game without hitting at least one 3-pointer since 2005. Their 978-game streak is the fifth longest in NBA history. ... The Spurs and the Raptors are two of only four teams in the NBA with 48-plus wins in each of the last four seasons (Warriors, Clippers). ... Toronto C Jonas Valanciunas is listed as day-to-day with a sprained left ankle. He travelled with the Raptors to San Antonio but sat out. He expects to play sometime on Toronto's road trip that began Monday. ... Fewest days with a losing record in the NBA in the last 20 years: Spurs 48, Mavericks, 759; Rockets, 856; Lakers, 865; Jazz, 919. ... Next up for San Antonio is a contest Wednesday in Miami, the first contest of three-game road trip. Toronto heads for Oakland and a matchup with Golden State, also on Wednesday.

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