TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard had the go-ahead dunk with 15 seconds left as the Toronto Raptors beat his former San Antonio Spurs teammates, 120-117, on Friday night, spoiling DeMar DeRozan’s return.
“Tonight was like a playoff game,” Leonard said. “We had to grind it out all the way to the end.”
Leonard scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half, and he combined with Kyle Lowry to strip DeRozan at midcourt before racing in alone for a one-handed slam.
“I knew they were going to be aggressive, trying to make a play on the ball and then foul,” DeRozan said. “I’ve just got to be more aware.”
Traded to San Antonio in the off-season deal that sent Leonard to Toronto, DeRozan received a warm welcome in the homecoming and finished with 23 points but was denied a second victory over his former team. DeRozan had his first career triple-double when the Spurs beat the Raptors 125-107 in Texas on Jan. 3, finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Lowry and DeRozan embraced near center court on Friday night after the final whistle as the capacity crowd of 20,058 cheered.
Fans rose for a standing ovation when DeRozan and the Spurs jogged out for pregame warm-ups, and were on their feet again when San Antonio’s starters were introduced.
The longest, loudest cheer came after a tribute video that ran during the first timeout. With the crowd roaring, DeRozan got up from the bench and walked onto the court, acknowledging the fans with several waves.
“To come back here and get a reception like that is definitely humbling, beyond gratifying,” DeRozan said.
Pascal Siakam added 22 points to help Toronto win its seventh straight game. Kyle Lowry and Danny Green each had 17 points, Serge Ibaka had 13 points and 15 rebounds, and Jeremy Lin had 11 points in his second game with the Raptors. Marco Belinelli scored 21 points for San Antonio, which has lost five of six.
“It was fun, pretty fun,” Lowry said. “Especially because we got the win. If we lost, it would have been terrible.”
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