- DeMar DeRozan recorded a triple double in a rout over Kawhi Leonard's Raptors to help the Spurs' continued resurgence this season.
Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors were not prepared for the DeMar DeRozan revenge game.
Just like this summer’s blockbuster trade, the hype surrounding Thursday’s matchup in San Antonio between the Raptors and Spurs was focused on the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the franchise he won a Finals MVP with.
But after the pregame boos when the game finally got started, the focus quickly shifted to DeRozan.
In his first game against the team that drafted him with the No. 9 pick in 2009, DeRozan showed out.
Leonard scored Toronto’s first two buckets of the game, but it was DeRozan who dominated the first quarter with nine points, eight rebounds and four assists. The home team was up 38-19 after the first 12 minutes, and the game was practically over.
Sure, DeRozan’s best friend Kyle Lowry wasn’t playing for the Raptors, but Toronto has had little trouble this season overcoming the absences of Lowry and Leonard. Yet on this night, the Raptors had no answers for their opposition.
DeRozan finished the first half with 19 points, 10 boards and five assists as his squad held a 16-point lead.
In the second half, he calmed down as a scorer, but it was no problem as Derrick White and Bryn Forbes had no trouble picking up the load. It was a full team effort from the Spurs who are looking to solidify their place in the West playoff race.
Six players finished in double figures for San Antonio and LaMarcus Aldridge finished with a team-high of 23 points.
Leonard held his own on the night going for 21 on 8-for-13 shooting. However, his squad couldn’t overcome that early hole.
And DeRozan was the clear star of the night. He posted his first career triple double as he finished with 21 points, 14 boards and 11 assists to go with two steals. The Spurs won 125-107 and moved into a tie for sixth in the West.
This doesn’t mean San Antonio won the trade, but it did win the first of the revenge games between the two teams.
In the crowded West, the Spurs got lost in the mix. And early in the season, there was reason to wonder if they would miss the postseason for the first time since 1997. But now they’ve won 10 of their last 13 and it feels like it’s business as usual down in Texas.
And now that the Leonard return has come and gone, there will be practically no hype in San Antonio. Most fans will ignore the Spurs until they look up and realize they are back in the postseason come April.
But sometimes it’s probably better to fly under the radar. It’s the Spurs way.
That’s why it makes so much sense and feels so obvious that the forgotten All-Star from this summer’s biggest trade had a career night while everybody was waiting to see what Leonard would do.