SAN ANTONIO – For much of the season, the Spurs have struggled with slow starts.
Such was not the case Tuesday night.
Led by Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, who combined for 48 points, the Silver and Black came out of the chute quickly and took control of the game early in rolling to a 110-82 shellacking of the Toronto Raptors at the AT&T Center.
The Raptors led only once, 2-0, before the Silver and Black took control. The Spurs led 29-18 after one quarter and 60-41 at the half. They outscored the Raptors 28-17 in the third quarter to take an 88-58 lead into the fourth period.
“That was a championship performance by a championship team,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.
The Silver and Black were on top of their game offensively and defensively, shooting 55.1 percent (43/78) overall and 54.2 percent (13/24) from the 3-point line, and blocking 15 shots. They finished with 43 assists and held Toronto, the NBA's top offensive team going into the game, to its lowest point total of the season.
Leonard and Aldridge scored 25 and 23 points, respectively, and Tony Parker finished with 15. The victory was so complete that all 13 Spurs players in uniform scored. Danny Green was the only San Antonio starter who played in the fourth quarter.
“It was fun for me,” Aldridge said, when asked what it was like to watch the team’s young players mop up in the fourth period. “The more they can play, it’s just going to help them develop.”
The Spurs (28-7) play at Denver on Thursday and host Charlotte on Saturday. Toronto, second in the Eastern Conference standings, slipped to 23-11. The Raptors went 3-3 on a six-game road trip that ended in San Antonio. Both teams hadn't played since Sunday.
“Well, we all get tough spots in our schedule, and it showed a little bit,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s a hell of a basketball team (Raptors). I’m sure they had more energy at the beginning of the road trip than they do now.
“We did take advantage of that, but I felt we played very well. We played with a lot of desire and a lot of fiber tonight. We executed pretty well, so it was a very good win against a good team.”
Leonard hit 8 of 12 shots and was 5 of 7 from the 3-point line. The Silver and Black shot 54.2 percent from beyond the arc (13/24). Danny Green (2/3) and Patty Mills (2/4) also hit from long distance.
San Antonio stifled the high-scoring Raptors with its suffocating defense, holding the visitors to 37.3 percent shooting (31/83) and blocking the 15 shots. The Spurs hadn’t had that many blocks since their season opener in 2003, when they recorded 16 against Denver.
Pau Gasol led the block party with four, followed by Leonard (3), David Bertans (2) and Dejounte Murray (2).
“We were just active,” Gasol said. “There were contested shots, a few great blocks. Dejounte (Murray) and David (Bertans) not giving up on plays, not allowing easy dunks or layups. I think that’s great, that our young players have that type of mindset.
“They compete hard no matter what, too. I think everyone was ready to bounce back after the tough loss on New Year’s Day, more activity on the defensive end to free up our offense, and I think it did.”
The Spurs were coming off a 114-112 overtime road loss to Atlanta on New Year's Day. They are now 6-1 in games after defeats.
The Silver and Black had one of their best offensive games of the season, getting 32 assists on their 43 made field goals. Parker dished out a game-high eight assists and Aldridge finished with six. Aldridge also led the Spurs on the boards with eight rebounds.
“I thought we made the extra pass,” Aldridge said. “That’s just the way guys play here. I thought guys found the open guy and got to the rim. It was guys just playing with confidence, just moving the ball.”
Popovich liked what he saw on both ends of the court.
“You know, I think everybody was really focused,” he said. “Tony really kept us at a great pace. Kawhi was aggressive, Pau and LaMarcus were aggressive, and that was at both ends of the court. It just carried over.”
Toronto finished with only eight assists. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who went into the game averaging 22.7 points, was held to six on 2-of-9 shooting. DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 26 points to lead Toronto.
“They came out and just outworked us, outplayed us, and they just did what they wanted to do and we couldn’t do what we wanted to do,” Lowry said. “As a leader, I’ve got to get our guys a little bit better ready and come out there more aggressive.”
Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the Spurs' 110-82 win over the Raptors:
Final: Spurs 110, Raptors 82
Fourth quarter (5:59): Spurs 101, Raptors 72
Fourth quarter (8:43): Spurs 94, Raptors 63. Danny Green was the only starter on the floor at the beginning of the fourth period. Kawhi Leonard (25), LaMarcus Aldridge (23) and Tony Parker (15) are the Spurs scoring in double figures.
End of third quarter: Spurs 88, Raptors 58. Patty Mills hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds to give the Silver and Black a 30-point lead. The Spurs have nailed 11 of 17 shots (64.7 percent) from the 3-point line. They are shooting 55.9 percent (33/59) overall.
Third quarter (1:41): Spurs 83, Raptors 57. The Silver and Black continue to cruise. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge lead the Spurs with 25 and 23 points, respectively.
Third quarter (5:12): Spurs 75, Raptors 57. Kawhi Leonard leads the Spurs with 25 points, followed by LaMarcus Aldridge (19) and Tony Parker (15).
Halftime: Spurs 60, Raptors 41
Halftime notes: Kawhi Leonard (21) and LaMarcus Aldridge (17) lead the Spurs in scoring. Each has hit 8 of 11 shots from the field. Leonard has drained 5 of 6 shots from beyond the arc, and Aldridge has hit his only three-point attempt. The Silver and Black shot 57.1 percent (24/42) overall in the first half, and 66.7 percent (8/12) from the 3-point line. DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 16 points, and he's the only Raptor in double figures. Toronto shot 37 percent (17/46) from the field in the first two quarters, and was 2 of 10 (20 percent) from beyond the arc. The Raptors led only once (2-0). The Spurs' biggest lead of the first half was 22 points (54-32, 56-34).
Second quarter (2:39): Spurs 51, Raptors 32. The Silver and Black are putting on a show. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge lead the Spurs 18 and 13 points, respectively.
Second quarter (5:20): Spurs 43, Raptors 28. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge lead the Silver and Black with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
First quarter ends: Spurs 29, Raptors 18. Kawhi Leonard leads the Silver and Black with 13 points.
First quarter (2:20): Spurs 29, Raptors 12. Kawhi Leonard leads the Spurs with 13 points. He has hit 5 of 6 shots, including 3 of 3 from the 3-point line.
First quarter (4:28): Spurs 26, Raptors 10. Kawhi Leonard has to 3-pointers already.
First quarter (8:39): Spurs 12, Raptors 4. Danny Green already has buried a 3-pointer for the Silver and Black.
SPURS GAMEDAY: Silver and Black one win off last year's record pace
Toronto Raptors (23-10) vs. Spurs (27-7)
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, AT&T Center
Raptors’ last game: Beat the Lakers 123-114, Sunday, Los Angeles
Spurs’ last game: Lost to the Hawks 114-112, OT, Sunday, Atlanta
Season series: First meeting
Notable: The Spurs have won seven consecutive home games after a 4-4 start at the AT&T Center.
SAN ANTONIO – After ending 2016 with the same number of victories they had after 33 games last season, the Spurs took a tumble against the Atlanta Hawks on New Year’s Day.
Tim Hardaway Jr. matched his career high with 29 points and Paul Millsap scored a season-high 32, leading the Hawks to a 114-112 overtime victory in Atlanta.
The win snapped an 11-game losing streak against San Antonio for the Hawks, who hadn’t beaten the Silver and Black since March 21, 2010. Atlanta won that one in overtime, too.
The Spurs (27-7) were 28-6 after 34 games last season, when they finished a franchise-best 67-15. San Antonio beat Portland 110-94 on Friday night to match last year’s pace after 33 games.
The Silver and Black will try to get back on track when they play the road-weary Toronto Raptors, one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the AT&T Center. The Raptors (23-10) are No. 2 in the East, trailing defending league champion Cleveland by three games.
Toronto has gone 3-2 on a road trip that ends against the Spurs, and has lost two of its last three games. The Raptors fell against Golden State (121-111) on Wednesday and Phoenix (99-91) on Thursday before beating the Lakers (123-114) on Sunday.
San Antonio, 8-2 in its last 10 games, had won four in a row before losing to the Hawks. The Silver and Black are 11-4 at home and 16-3 on the road. They have won seven consecutive home games since starting out 4-4 at the AT&T Center.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, a former longtime Spurs assistant, was 0-6 against former boss Gregg Popovich before Sunday’s Atlanta victory. Budenholzer was on Popovich’s staff for 19 years, the last 17 as an assistant coach, before taking his first NBA head-coaching job with the Hawks in 2013.
LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Spurs in the Atlanta game. Kawhi Leonard had 13 points in his first start since missing two games with a stomach virus. With the Silver and Black down by two, Leonard missed a layup in the final seconds of OT. Leonard also came excruciatingly close to winning the game in regulation, but his fade-away jumper rimmed out right before the buzzer.
Tony Parker scored a season-high 22 points and dished out six assists for the Spurs. Pau Gasol just missed getting a double-double, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds. Manu Ginobili scored 10 points, but San Antonio’s bench was outscored by the Hawks’ reserves 49-23.
Next up for the Spurs after Tuesday: at Denver, Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
Next Spurs home game after Tuesday: vs. Charlotte, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.