Summing it up
The Spurs were well aware of what Toronto, despite its mediocre record, had done to Oklahoma City on Sunday, continuing to hang around before finally edging past the Thunder down the stretch. Despite another gutty effort from the Raptors (11-15), the Spurs (22-6) avoided a similar fate, riding Tony Parker’s 26 points and timely 3-point shots from Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green during the decisive run to secure a well-earned victory.
Player of the game
Parker turned in a sneaky-great performance, one of those games where you’d guess he ended up with no more than 20 if you didn’t have access to the box score. That’s how easy he can make it look on nights like Monday, when he scored eight points in each of the final two quarters to carry the Spurs. It was an emphatic bounce back from the torching he got from Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook on Saturday, and just enough to outdo Toronto’s Kyle Lowry (23 points).
The turning point
It never felt like the Spurs were never in serious jeopardy. But with Toronto having cut their lead to 100-95 with 2:18 remaining, a comeback was still within the realm of possibility. The Spurs were in no giving mood, however, outscoring them 12-4 the rest of the way. Leonard finished and started the surge with 3s, while Green added his fourth triple of the quarter midway through to help finally put the Raptors away.
News, notes and observations
* Marco Belinelli replaced Green in the starting lineup for the second time in the past four games, marking only the fourth instance Green hasn’t started since earning the job midway through the 2011-12 season. Green responded with his best game in a month, scoring 12 of 14 points, including all four of his 3s, in the fourth quarter.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn’t elaborate much on the move, as you’d expect. But he did say it wasn’t based on the offensive end, where Green has been even streakier than usual following his record-setting performance in the Finals. With Belinelli playing so well on offense — at least before Monday, when he scored just four points and missed all five 3-point attempts — it wouldn’t be surprising to see he and Green shuffle back and forth as Popovich experiments.
“You don’t bench people because they’re not making shots,” he said. “We just changed the look and changed the rotation a little bit. It could change again.”
Summing it up