Michael C. WrightESPN Staff WriterClose
- Joined ESPN in 2010
- Previously covered Bears for ESPN.com
- Played college football at West Texas A&M
The problem is, DeRozan is now with San Antonio. And he made a bold statement by notching his first career triple-double in his first meeting against the Raptors, with whom he spent his first nine NBA seasons. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in the Spurs’ 125-107 victory, which also saw Kawhi Leonard return to San Antonio for the first time since the teams pulled off the blockbuster trade that landed the players at their respective locales.
DeRozan brushed off the notion that there was any extra emotion in the game.
“It really wasn’t [anything],” he said. “It was extremely fun going out there talking mess to my old teammates. But there wasn’t [any] emotions, wasn’t emotional at all for me. It was just a fun game.”
It became more fun when he sealed the triple-double with an assist to LaMarcus Aldridge with 7:09 remaining in the game.
“Sometimes I look up [at the scoreboard], and I think after the first quarter, I looked up and said, ‘Damn, I’ve got five rebounds.’ Next thing you know, I’ve got seven assists. Then, I’ve got nine,” DeRozan said. “Somebody told me, ‘Let’s run the screen-and-roll with L.A. [LaMarcus Aldridge] and get your triple-double.’ I said, ‘Damn, all right. Run the screen-and-roll.’ He knocked it down for me.”
Coach Gregg Popovich said he told DeRozan “it was about time” he got his first triple-double.
“I had no idea he was that good of a passer, but he’s been one of our better guys playing downhill, attracting a crowd and finding teammates,” Popovich said. “I knew he was a scorer, I knew he was a great teammate and all that sort of thing, high character. But I did not know about the passing.”
DeRozan became the first Spurs player to record a triple-double at home since 2003, when Tim Duncan accomplished the feat. DeRozan also became just the fourth Spur under Popovich to log a triple-double, joining Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Duncan.
DeRozan is just the 13th player in Spurs history to produce a triple-double, and it marked the 43rd time that milestone had been reached in San Antonio franchise history.
DeRozan is just the fifth player in NBA history to post a triple-double in his first game against a former team, according to research from Elias Sports Bureau. DeRozan is the second player in NBA history with a 20-point triple-double in his first game against a former team, according to Elias, joining Guy Rodgers on Oct. 18, 1966, against the Golden State Warriors.
Spurs forward Rudy Gay, who also was teammates with DeRozan in Toronto, praised his development.
“I’ve seen how he’s changed his years, and now he’s become more of a complete player. He’s doing everything for us,” Gay said.
“Obviously, I had an inside scoop on the type of player he is and what kind of person he is. He’s continuing to learn the system, and the system is continuing to learn him.”