SAN ANTONIO — Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan stopped short of an apology Monday for letting his emotions get the best of him Saturday, when he was ejected from Game 4 of the San Antonio-Denver playoff series. But he expressed regret for the incident that cost him a $25,000 fine from the NBA.
“Oh, yeah, for sure,” DeRozan said Monday after practice. “You never want to go out like that, leave your teammates hanging. You win with them, you lose with them. You definitely don’t want to go out like that, for sure.”
DeRozan was tossed with 5:01 left after he threw the basketball in the direction of official Scott Foster, who had whistled DeRozan for an offensive foul. Foster subsequently slapped DeRozan with a technical and threw him out of the game.
“I wasn’t surprised,” DeRozan said, when he was asked if he expected to hear from the league Monday. “I wasn’t surprised at all.”
DeRozan was asked if there was anything else he regretted besides having to pay the $25,000 fine.
“Twenty-five grand,” DeRozan said, as his eyes widened a bit. “For sure. Nobody wants to give away that much money.”
After the game, DeRozan wrote off the incident to “frustration.”
“I thought it was a bad call,” he said. “A combination of both.”
Spurs All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge said Saturday he could relate to DeRozan’s frustration.
"He's a fiery guy," Aldridge said. "Everyone knows that now. Nobody wanted to lose. Everybody was a little frustrated."
The Nuggets rolled to a 117-103 win in Game 4 to tie the Western Conference first-round playoff series 2-2, and snap a 14-game losing streak to the Spurs in San Antonio.
Game 5 is Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver, where the Silver and Black won the series opener.
A four-time NBA All-Star, DeRozan played his first nine NBA seasons with the Toronto Raptors before getting traded to San Antonio last summer for Kawhi Leonard. DeRozan was San Antonio’s second-leading scorer in the regular season with a 21.2 average – LaMarcus Aldridge was No. 1 at 21.3 points per game – and led the team in assists (6.2). He also averaged six rebounds a game.
DeRozan is San Antonio’s top scorer in the playoffs with a 23.3 average. He is also averaging 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
DeRozan expressed confidence that the Spurs can win Game 5 and get back the home-court advantage they lost Sunday.
“All the mistakes that have been going on with us in this series are on us,” DeRozan said. “Our effort, our concentration level and understanding not to give them fuel that makes them a great team. We’ve just got to pick that up. We showed spurts of it, and there are spurts that we’re lacking in. That’s when they make their runs, so just being conscious of that for 48 minutes.”
The Silver and Black split the first two games of the series in Denver, and won Game 3 when the series moved to San Antonio. But they missed an opportunity to go up 3-1 when they lost Game 4 on Saturday at the AT&T Center.
At least one thing has held true through four games of the series: The losing team in the previous game has bounced back with a win.
“We’re back to that point,” DeRozan said. “We gave away a home game, so we’re definitely back at square one. We’ve got to go in there and win in a tough environment. It should be fun.”
The Nuggets were a league-best 34-7 at home during the regular season. The Spurs won Game 1 in Denver 101-96.
“We’ve got to go out there and do it again,” DeRozan said. “Nothing else to it but to do it.”