Spurs, Raptors meet amid season of adjustments

The San Antonio Spurs will try to avoid their eighth straight loss Monday night when they visit the rebuilding Toronto Raptors.

Both teams are coming off decisive losses.

In the third of nine consecutive road games, on both sides of the All-Star break, the Spurs lost to the Brooklyn Nets 123-103 on Saturday.

The Raptors, who are adjusting their lineup following trades, lost 119-95 to the surging Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday in the second game of five in a row at home and four consecutive heading into the break.

The Raptors won their two previous games. In the loss on Saturday, the Raptors worked Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji into the mix after both were obtained Thursday in a trade with the Utah Jazz. They did not play in a win over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Olynyk had 11 points and three steals as a reserve against the Cavaliers and Agbaji had eight points off the bench.

Scottie Barnes led Toronto with his third triple-double of the season and the fourth of his career when he had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Olynyk, who was born in Toronto, received an ovation when he entered the game during the first quarter.

“It just gives you chills,” said Olynyk, who is a member of Canada’s national team. “A special, special moment, getting the love and support of this whole country.”

It also marked the beginning of an adjustment period.

“Obviously, it’s really tough,” Olynyk said. “You don’t know, really, what’s going on on both ends of the floor. I think that was probably pretty evident in the first half. The second half, we kind of found a little bit of rhythm and found like a few simple sets that everybody kind of knew.”

Said Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic: “Once we started subbing in new guys, it was hard for them to know what we’re running, what we wanted to do defensively. There were a lot of breakdowns, but that’s to be expected and now we’re going to have a shootaround and do a little bit of work in preparation for San Antonio (on Monday).”

With the roster turnover that included dealing away Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby well before the deadline, Barnes has become something of a veteran presence in his third season.

“Scottie can do a lot of things so he’s really easy to play off, play with,” Olynyk said. “Then, when you have those shooters and slashers and you have (Immanuel) Quickley out there, you know, we could definitely catch a rhythm with that group.”

Rookie Victor Wembanyama, the 20-year-old first overall pick of the 2023 draft, scored 21 points for the Spurs on Saturday.

Wembanyama said that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has talked to him about the difficulty of getting through long road trips during a long, tiring season.

“He told me a little bit about it and so it’s not more complicated than that, it’s just hard to do,” Wembanyama said.

Dominick Barlow might have earned more playing time after a productive 12 minutes on Saturday. He had seven points and nine rebounds after replacing struggling backup center Zach Collins.

“I think (Barlow) got seven or eight offensive rebounds,” Popovich said. “He was very active, and we like to reward things like that. He earned the minutes, he deserved them, so we gave them to him.”

Toronto signed Justise Winslow and Mouhamadou Gueye to 10-day contracts Saturday.

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