Morning Coffee – Thu, Nov 3

Otto Porter makes debut | Siakam gets a triple-double in 28 minutes | OG is a defensive menace | Raptors roll over red hot Spurs

10 things: Raptors overwhelm Spurs with size and athleticism in 43-point blowout – Sportsnet

Five: This next step in Chris Boucher’s growth is consistency. Boucher used to be a player who showed up in spurts, where his boundless energy would lead him to rack up boxscore contributions that seemed to overstate his impact.

Now it’s the opposite, where Boucher is routinely delivering game-changing performances to lift the second unit. He rarely makes mistakes, which has been his biggest transformation over the years, while maintaining the same aggression. Boucher played the entire second quarter, scoring 12 points and snaring seven rebounds, and he was the reason the Raptors were able to pull away and never look back.

Six: One of the many benefits of playing bigger is that Gary Trent Jr. can attack more mismatches. The six-foot-five guard was the smallest player in Toronto’s rotation, which meant that the Spurs had to cover him with six-foot guard Tre Jones, and that was all the encouragement that Trent Jr. needed.

He hunted the Spurs’ point guards, pulling up in their faces without even creating much separation because he knew his shot wasn’t going to be blocked. Trent Jr. is quietly second on the Raptors in scoring, and has especially thrived as the outlet in the two-man game with Siakam.

Seven: O.G. Anunoby’s defense is so good that it’s directly translating into offence. He followed up his six-steal, two-block masterclass against Atlanta with five steals and a block in three quarters.

The most impressive part is that every single one of those six stops directly led to the Raptors scoring in transition. Anunoby grabbed three steals in the first three minutes of the game, and at times was so calculated that he would slow down a half step in transition, make the opponent think that the crosscourt pass was open, only to pick off the play.

Chris Boucher is a Raptors developmental success story, not just an energy guy – The Athletic

• Otto Porter Jr. made his Raptors debut after missing the first seven games of the year – first with of a hamstring injury, then because of the birth of his child. The last quarter and a half of the game was low-leverage, which allowed Porter Jr. to log 11 minutes in his debut. He notched five points, but the play that will stick with me was Porter helping the helper after a long defensive possession, knocking the ball away in the paint to force a turnover. With a slower rotation, the Spurs are probably getting a layup. Porter is going to make a big difference late in the season.

• Fred VanVleet missed his second straight game with lower back soreness. There is no reason to think it’s anything serious, but the Raptors are right to play the long game with his health.

• Pascal Siakam recorded a triple-double with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while O.G. Anunoby had five steals, one game after posting six against Atlanta. What, do you want a dissertation about it? They’re good at basketball.

• It’s one thing to sit in the paint and block a shot. It’s another for a rookie big man who still needs to put on a lot of muscle to hang with a guard — in this case, fellow rookie Malaki Branham — and stay in front of him enough to swat away a layup attempt. Christian Koloko continues to impress
• If there’s one obvious thing that has been missing from this Raptors season, it’s offensive rebounding. They came into the game ranking 16th in offensive rebounding percentage, one year after finishing second. This is another reason why current Spurs center (and former Raptors first-round pick) Jakob Poeltl would make a very interesting fit down the road this year in a potential trade. He grabbed two offensive boards on the Spurs’ first non-turnover possession. He was asked to do way too much in this game, given the Spurs’ two starting wings were out with injuries. He has become a really solid complementary piece.

• Point guard Scottie Barnes giveth away, point guard Scottie Barnes just plain giveth. Barnes threw some outrageous passes in this one that were not captured in either his five assists or two turnovers By the way, props to him for taking the halfcourt heave just before halftime. Real hoopers don’t care about their field-goal percentages.

• I don’t write about Trent very often for reasons I’m never able to articulate very well. He is a good player, but the difference between his good and bad games tends to be whether the ball goes in on similar attempts. I guess there’s not much room to dive in intellectually there. Saying that, I should probably appreciate how easy he makes certain shots seem.

• I’m old enough to remember the night Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green made their returns to San Antonio as members of the Raptors. I’m guessing Wednesday was a little different for Thaddeus Young and Juancho Hernangomez, who combined to play 421 minutes in 31 games for the Spurs last year.

Shorthanded Spurs can’t handle the pesky Raptors in blowout loss – Pounding The Rock

The Spurs have been on something of a magical streak to open the season, going 5-1 since opening night, but they learned their limits as the injuries finally piled too high for them to overcome a long, athletic, pesky Toronto Raptors squad. Down their top two scorers in Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell (not to mention Isaiah Roby and Blake Wesley), Keita Bates-Diop and Romeo Langford started in their place and had their moments, but the Spurs just didn’t have the offensive fire power or discipline on either end to keep up on the way to a massive blowout loss, 143-100.

Clearly missing Johnson’s energy and leadership, the Spurs looked lifeless to start the game as the Raptors raced out to a 9-0 lead on two fast breaks, an open three, and two free throws, forcing a Gregg Popovich timeout just two minutes into the game. Some shots finally started falling for the Spurs, and once they were able to get some stops, they went on a 10-0 run fueled by threes from Langford and Doug McDermott to get back within one, 19-18. With the Spurs finally finding some life on offense, the two teams traded buckets the rest of the way, and the Raptors led 32-31 after the first quarter. Unfortunately, that would be the end of the good vibes for the night.

The Spurs briefly got their first lead of the game on a Poeltl layup to open the second quarter, but from there they were all out of sorts again. The Raptors continued to feast off the Spurs’ miscues to get out and thrive on the fast break, and the Spurs couldn’t get many shots to fall without any flow to the offense — although when there was flow they did score, as evident by their 15 assists on 20 made field goals — taking a 15-point deficit into halftime, 64-49.

Zach Collins started the second half in place of Jeremy Sochan after he remained in the locker room at halftime, but the added length didn’t yield any better results against the Raptors and their swarming defense. The Spurs still couldn’t buy much on offense or take care of the ball, and the second half started the same way the game did: with the Raptors living in the fast break, both off lazy passes and even made baskets, and hitting their threes. It was a complete blowout by midway through the third quarter, and the Spurs took a 104-70 deficit into a fourth quarter that was nothing but extended garbage time on the way to the 43-point loss.

Shorthanded San Antonio Spurs Blown Out By Toronto Raptors in Worst Loss of Season – Sports Illustrated Inside The Spurs, Analysis and More

Without Keldon Johnson or Devin Vassell in the lineup, the Spurs deployed Keita Bates-Diop and Romeo Langford in the starting lineup in their place. The Raptors’ personnel is proficient at switching — posing a real challenge for San Antonio. 

“They are really good at that (defensive pressure),” Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop said. “They switch 1 through 5 and get in the passing lanes. We’ve got to get better at moving off the ball. That’s a really good veteran team. That was a good test for us. That is probably the best team we have played all season.”

It was a shorter night for the Raptors’ starters than they’re accustomed to having with none among the five reaching the 30-minute threshold. Pascal Siakam recorded a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists to set the tone. 

“Pascal has a great command of what he’s seeing and what he’s doing,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “He’s into plays and he’s creating a lot of easy opportunities for himself. He’s making the move to get really clear of shots.”

Plenty of the Raptors’ other key starters proved challenging for the Spurs to contain. Gary Trent Jr. totaled 24 points while O.G. Anunoby (18) and Scottie Barnes (15) each combined for 33 points, in addition. Toronto finished with 76 points in the paint and 39 transition points.

Recap: Toronto Raptors unleash hell on San Antonio Spurs, win 143-100 – Raptors HQ

With Fred VanVleet out, the Raptors got to experiment with a lot of huge, funky lineups. They stuck with Koloko as the starting five alongside Siakam, Barnes, Anunoby, and Trent. Another fun lineup to watch was their all-bench opening unit for the fourth quarter: Dalano Banton, Otto Porter Jr., Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa, and Khem Birch. I don’t remember much of what they did on offense, but I do recall Boucher intercepting a pass and Porter leaping to break up another one. They played two minutes together and wreaked havoc with their length.

Up 34 heading into the fourth, the Raptors’ starters experienced a rare luxury in the Nick Nurse era: not touching the court in the fourth quarter. Each of the five starters finished with 28 or fewer played, which, if you’ve been following along, never happens. Blowouts are a beautiful thing!

The fourth quarter allowed Nurse to give some of the veterans run. Thad Young has been getting DNPs but played eight minutes in the fourth. O.G.’s defensive tenacity seemed to be infectious, as both Young and Birch jumped passes leading to dunks. Precious Achiuwa was able to pad his numbers in the fourth, and surely had some fun as the best player on the court.

Otto Porter also hit a catch-and-shoot three in the fourth. This particular shot put them up 134-87 so, you know, low stakes. But it was nice to finally see it happen — hopefully, the first of many.

No, the shorthanded Spurs were not a scary opponent. In fact, that might’ve been the least scary roster in the league. But the good teams are supposed to beat up on the bad ones, and the Raptors thoroughly outclassed the Spurs. That’s exactly how you want a playoff team to play a basement-dwelling opponent.

On an individual level, Chris Boucher, who finished with 17 points and eight boards, continues to be the Raptors’ key ingredient off the bench. Gary Trent Jr. put on a show with his signature difficult shot-making, putting up 24 points. Anunoby scored 18 but more importantly, played legitimately Defensive Player of the Year-level defense — he now has 11 steals over the last two games. Scottie Barnes excelled in the point guard role, and continues to use no-look passes and pass-fakes to manipulate defenses in ways nobody else on the roster does. He also flung some beautiful outlet passes, and finished with 15 points, four rebounds, and five assists.

Finally, Pascal Siakam continued his streak of eight consecutive 20+ point games to open the season, as well as his seventh consecutive game with 20-5-5. He finished with 22, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists, good for his second triple double of the season. These stats were all accumulated in three quarters.

It’s one thing to beat the ‘22-23 Spurs, but it’s another to beat them by 43. It all started with the team’s chaotic defense and Siakam’s offensive creation, tonight. And that’s really the identity of this team.

Raptors back up words of an NBA great in romp of Spurs | The Star

Pascal Siakam reeled off his second triple-double of the season with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds while OG Anunoby continued his stellar run of defensive play with 18 points and five steals — a big part of a disruptive visiting defence that converted 23 San Antonio turnovers into 31 points. It was Anunoby’s second straight game with five or more steals; he had six in Monday’s blowout win over Atlanta.

“Defensively, I’ve always wanted to be defensive player of the year,” Anunoby said. “I’ve always thought I was the best defender in the league. I’ve thought that for I don’t know how many years.”

Said Siakam: “Maybe it’s OG propaganda, but I just feel like he can do that on any given night. He’s just gifted that way. As long as he focuses on that every single day and don’t take days off, he’s already special. So I think he can continue to get better at it. He can do it in his sleep, it feels like. It doesn’t look like he’s really trying out there.”

The Spurs, pegged as a likely lottery team before the season, came into the game with a 5-2 record. Perhaps as a consequence, Toronto coach Nick Nurse said his team “took the scouting report and preparation very seriously, which is what we needed to do … We really played hard defensively.”

Popovich had to agree.

“They’ve got just a great attitude about how you play hard every minute,” Popovich, the all-time winningest coach in NBA history, said of the Raptors. “Their coach has done a great job making them (a team) you have to worry about on both ends of the floor because they cause so many turnovers. And on offence they’re so hard to guard because of their speed and athleticism. They’re a really fine team.”

Gary Trent Jr. scored 24 points on 13 field-goal attempts while Chris Boucher added 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

“He was everywhere,” Nurse said of Boucher.

Raptors Get Triple-Double from Pascal Siakam in Win vs Spurs – Sports Illustrated Toronto Raptors

Barnes opened the game by connecting with Koloko on a high alley-oop, showing off the kind of chemistry that normally takes months to develop. He rifled a skip pass to Chris Boucher in the corner for a three-pointer in the second quarter and found Boucher again driving down the lane for a layup moments later.

Otto Porter Jr. too picked up his first career Raptors points off a heater from Barnes who rifled the ball into the paint leading to a pair of free throws from the newest member of the team.

All that playmaking from Barnes who finished with 15 points and five assists came while simultaneously locking down Jones, his point guard counterpart, and keeping the Spurs’ offense under wraps. San Antonio was forced into 23 turnovers leading directly to 31 Raptors’ points.

Barnes, though, can’t take all the credit as Toronto’s new-era offensive facilitator. Pascal Siakam once again stepped up as a point forward for the Raptors, doing a little bit of everything to keep the offense ticking without VanVleet. He did his best Kawhi Leonard impression in the first quarter, twice rising up from the left side to nail a pair of tough mid-range jumpers. Then in the third quarter, he showed off his toughness near the hoop, collecting a pass from Barnes for an and-one layup, part of a 40-point frame that allowed Toronto to blow the game wide open.

Siakam needed less than 28 minutes to record his second triple-double of the season, finishing the night with 22 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.

Raptors roll to easy win over Spurs as Porter makes debut | Toronto Sun

Porter came off the bench in a 143-100 Raptors laugher, Toronto’s second emphatic victory this week, following a 30-point pasting of Atlanta. The team fell two points shy of setting a new franchise-record for points in a game.

All-star Pascal Siakam again led the way, notching a triple-double (22 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds in only 28 minutes). O.G. Anunoby had 18 points and five steals, Scottie Barnes 15 and Gary Trent Jr. added 24. Chris Boucher was superb off the bench with 17 points and eight rebounds, numbers that didn’t paint the full picture of his contributions, especially in the second quarter when this was still a game.

Following a tight first quarter, Toronto completely controlled the game. San Antonio was significantly short-handed, missing leading scorers Keldon Johnson (23.9 points per game) and Devin Vassell (19.8) due to injuries, and the result was dreadful shooting and 23 turnovers leading to 31 Raptors points.

The Raptors missed Fred VanVleet for a second straight game, but were happy to have Porter available to provide much-needed shooting to the second unit. Porter’s career 39.8% three-point percentage leads all Raptors, just ahead of Gary Trent Jr. and VanVleet.

Head coach Nick Nurse has said that he expects Porter to be a part of his rotation.

A long-time starter with the Washington Wizards, including in two playoff series against Toronto, Porter has mostly been a reserve the last few seasons with Chicago, Orlando and Golden State.

Porter sounded ecstatic to be in the lineup.

“I’m feeling pretty good, ready to get going,” Porter told TSN in San Antonio on Wednesday morning.

“I’m back and it’s time to get the ball rolling.”

Porter played eight minutes, checking in for the first time to start the second quarter and didn’t look out of place defensively. He had five points, three rebounds and two steals.

Porter told TSN he’s been impressed by the “hungry” young guys on the Raptors who “want to be at an elite level” and feels his job is to help get them there.

Porter hopes to help defensively, on the boards and to spread the floor on offence.

New father — and Raptor — Otto Porter Jr. makes season debut | The Star

Speaking of expectations, Porter Jr.’s return to the fold meant Wednesday’s game here against the Spurs doubled as his long-awaited Raptors debut, this after he missed the bulk of training camp and the first seven games of the season to a combination of a hamstring injury and paternity leave. The club is no doubt hoping Porter Jr. can prove a reliable threat from three-point range while chipping in as an able rebounder and defender. And given Porter’s newly expanded familial circumstance, Fred VanVleet suggested it wouldn’t be outlandish to expect even bigger things than that.

“There’s a lot of pressure. The last baby brought us a championship,” VanVleet said. “So we’ll see what Otto’s baby can bring us this year.”
VanVleet was smiling when he spoke those words. The epic story of VanVleet’s improbable transformation from struggling liability to clutch-shooting savant in the immediate wake of the 2019 post-season birth of his son, Fred Jr., will forever be central to the lore of Toronto’s first championship. You know the tale: In the time between Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference final against Milwaukee, VanVleet attended to the arrival of his second child. And almost magically, he morphed into a wholly different player. A guy who couldn’t make a shot suddenly couldn’t miss an important one, knocking down a scorching 52.6 per cent from three-point range over the next nine games. From there out, Toronto’s smallest man on the floor again and again supplied some of a title team’s biggest makes.

Said VanVleet: “Hopefully Otto brings some of that same luck.”

Porter Jr., for his part, laughed at VanVleet’s laying down of the paternal gauntlet.

“I mean, my baby came right after I won a championship,” said Porter Jr. with a shrug.

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