Toronto Raptors: Five best games of the 18-19 regular season

Toronto Raptors (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /
5 of 6
Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. Toronto Raptors 120-117 San Antonio Spurs – February 23

The context of this game already made it infinitely more exciting, but the game itself really tipped it over the edge.

It was the return of DeMar DeRozan. The first time he would be playing in Toronto since being traded by the Raptors in the summer of 2018. That trade, as we all know, brought Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto.

While it had been seven months since the deal took place, there was still some animosity heading into the game. That included Nick Nurse, the Toronto Raptors head coach, who was ejected from the game after two quick technicals.

The Raptors were still in the hunt for the top seed in the Eastern Conference while the Spurs were doing everything possible to stay as one of the top 8 teams in the West. Both teams had a lot to play for.

Deservedly so, DeRozan got a great reception before the game. One of the greatest in Raptors history was a big part of the team’s legacy in some of it’s greatest years before this season. Still, DeRozan and the Spurs would want to put get one over on the Raptors once again after defeating them in a blowout earlier in the season.

Unfortunately, for DeRozan, he would have anything but the last laugh in this game. He hit Marco Belinelli on a kick-out pass for the three-pointer and the Spurs took a two-point lead with 24.9 seconds to go when Serge Ibaka was fouled.

After Ibaka missed the second free throw, DeRozan rebounded the ball and proceeded to bring it up the court. Alas, he would not get very far. A Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard double-team forced the ball out of DeRozan’s hands, with Leonard taking the ball the other way for the dunk. It felt like poetry on a basketball court.

An exciting end to an exciting game, all on a memorable night for the Raptors.