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SPURS GAMEDAY: Hot-shooting DeRozan setting torrid pace in January

Forward DeMar DeRozan has boosted his scoring average to 29.6 points in five games this month.
Credit: Photo by Antonio Morano (bit.ly/XR79FT) / Special to KENS5.com
DeMar DeRozan had his first career triple-double in the Spurs' win over the Raptors last Jan. 3, finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

Spurs (16-21) vs. Toronto Raptors (25-13)

When, where: Sunday, 5 p.m., Scotiabanrena, Toronto, Canada

All-time series record: Spurs lead 33-13

Last season: Tied 1-1

Season series: First meeting

Last meeting: Raptors 120, Spurs 117, Feb. 22, Toronto

Spurs' last game: Lost to Grizzlies 134-121, Friday, Memphis, Tenn.

Raptors' last game: Beat Hornets 112-110, OT, Wednesday, Charlotte, N.C.

Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 5-5, lost one

Raptors' last 10 games/streak: 5-5, won one

Spurs' injury/inactive report: Guard/forward Keldon Johnson (G League), out; forward Chimezie Metu (G League), out; forward Luka Samanic (G League), out; guard Quinndary Weatherspoon (G League), out.

Raptors' injury/inactive report: Center Marc Gasol (left hamstring; strain), questionable; center/forward Dewan Hernandez (right ankle; sprain), out; guard Sharmorie Ponds (G League), out; guard Norman Powell (left shoulder; subluxation), probable; forward Pascal Siakam, (groin; strain), questionable; guard Fred VanVleet (right hamstring; strain), out.

Notable: Sunday's game is the third of four straight on the road for the Spurs. The Silver and Black wrap up their road trip at Miami on Wednesday . . . San Antonio is ninth in the Western Conference standings, only percentage points behind No. 8 Memphis (17-22) for the last playoff spot in the West. 


Lauded by his teammates for his professionalism and work ethic, Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan is an old-school baller who relishes every opportunity to play the game he loves.

One of the NBA's best midrange shooters, DeRozan is in the midst of a midseason run that could land him in the All-Star Game after missing the big show last year in his first season with the Silver and Black.

DeRozan played his first nine NBA seasons with Toronto before going to San Antonio in the blockbuster trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors in the summer of 2018. 

"It wasn't going to be easy for him to come here," veteran Spurs guard Patty Mills said after a recent workout. "And he's taken the high road on many different occasions and worked hard to be able to make himself fit in. I think the point is that he's a professional (who) can learn on the fly and adapt on the fly, which is not easy to do...professional, professional."

"It's a grind as everyone knows, but he's one of those guys who will just continue to show up and work hard and obviously be ready when his number's called, which is a lot," said Mills.

DeRozan returns Sunday to where his NBA career started when the Spurs play the Raptors in Toronto. The meeting will be the first of two this season between the teams, and DeRozan's second game in Toronto since the trade.

The Raptors edged the Silver and Black 120-117 last Feb. 22 in Toronto. San Antonio led by one before Leonard stole the ball from Leonard and scored the go-ahead dunk with 15 seconds left.

DeRozan has raised his game substantially the past three weeks, scoring at least 21 points in nine consecutive games. He has set a torrid pace in January, averaging 29.6 points in five games.

“I just want to win, especially with the up-and-down season we’ve had,” said DeRozan, a four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA pick.

Credit: Photo by Antonio Morano bit.ly/XR79FT / Special to KENS5.com
Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan is among 44 finalists, including teammates LaMarcus Aldridge and Derrick White, for a spot on Team USA's Olympic roster.

Spurs guard Bryn Forbes was effusive in his praise of DeRozan, who is in his 11th pro season after being selected by Toronto with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft.

“He’s one of the best players in the world," Forbes said after DeRozan scored 29 points on 13-of-16 shooting in San Antonio's 136-109 rout of Detroit on Dec. 28. "He’s a great slasher, great passer, and he makes the game easy for everyone else. It’s fun playing with him.”

DeRozan leads the Spurs in scoring (22.4) and assists (5.0), and is shooting a career-best 53.4 percent. He also averages 5.3 rebounds a game.

DeRozan just missed recording a triple-double in San Antonio's 134-121 loss to Memphis on Friday night, finishing with 36 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

“He’s just been very aggressive," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He’s not worrying about missing his shot. He is so unselfish. If someone is open, he hits them, and if he has the opportunity he goes and scores. He was our main guy.”

The Silver and Black had won back-to-back games against Milwaukee, which has the best record in the league, and Boston before falling to the Grizzlies. The Spurs haven't won three straight since starting the season 3-0.

DeRozan kept San Antonio close, but in the end, the Spurs couldn't put together enough stops to pull out the victory.

"If he didn’t do what he did, we would’ve gotten beat to death," Popovich said of DeRozan. "He helped us hang in there. Too many guys were basically deferring to the basketball gods.” 

DeRozan got the first triple-double of his career in his first game against the Raptors last Jan. 3, finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in a 125-107 Spurs win at the AT&T Center.