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Toronto Raptors

5 takeaways from DeMar DeRozan's return to Toronto

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DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry (NBA Getty Images)

The Raptors came away victorious in DeMar DeRozan's return to Toronto on Saturday (AEDT), defeating the San Antonio Spurs 120-117.

This game had everything you could have imagined - from the emotions of DeRozan's introduction and tribute video to Kawhi Leonard's game-winning steal and dunk.

Here are your takeaways from the first game of the unofficial second half of the Raptors' season...

3-point shooting keeps Raptors alive

The first half of this game was the exact opposite of how most of the Raptors' slow starts have been this season.

For a change, it was their 3-point shooting that gave them a fighting chance to stay competitive on Saturday.

After two quarters, the Raptors were shooting 5-for-30 from the field - a dreadful 16.7 percent. From 3-point land, they shot a lights out 12-for-22 - good for 54.5 percent.

Danny Green's four 3-pointers and Kyle Lowry's three 3-pointers led the team, while Pascal Siakam (2 3PM), OG Anunoby (2 3PM) and Serge Ibaka (1 3PM) converted all of their long range attempts.

36 of the Raptors' 55 points at the half came by way of the 3-ball and without their stellar perimeter shooting, this one could have been over before the second half started.

They finished the game shooting 40.6 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from deep.

DeRozan's night

DeMar DeRozan was terrific through the first 47 and a half minutes of this contest.

He was extremely efficient in scoring 23 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field while converting all nine of his free throw attempts. He also had eight assists, leading to 21 points for the Spurs, to go along with four rebounds, two steals and a block.

DeRozan's final assist of the night set Marco Belinelli up for a go-ahead 3-pointer with 44.9 seconds on the clock, but the rest of the game did not go as planned.

DeRozan corralled Serge Ibaka's missed game-tying free throw attempt with under 20 seconds to go and casually tried to advance the ball into the front court, waiting for the Raptors to attempt to intentionally foul.

Leonard instead stole the ball from DeRozan at halfcourt, leading to a fast break dunk to take the lead. On the ensuing possession, DeRozan passed up an opportunity to win the game, resulting in Davis Bertans missing the game-winning shot attempt, spoiling his return.

Leonard's slow start and strong finish

Through three quarters, it looked like Kawhi Leonard was on his way to another quiet performance against his former team.

He had 17 points but struggled shooting from the field (5-for-18) while missing all three of his 3-point attempts. He made up for his slow start by ultimately deciding the outcome of the game in the fourth quarter.

Leonard scored eight of his 25 points in the game's final frame, shooting 3-for-5 from the field. He even knocked down a clutch turnaround jumper in the face of his trade counterpart down the stretch.

But no play in the game was bigger than his steal and breakaway dunk that sealed the deal.

His 25 points came on 8-for-23 shooting from the field, missing all four of his 3-point attempts. He shot 9-for-10 from the free throw line and grabbed six rebounds but did not seem like he had it until the final stretch.

However, Leonard certainly got his revenge for the 18-point loss the Raptors suffered in San Antonio earlier this season to split the season series against his former team.

The newcomers

Neither Marc Gasol nor Jeremy Lin had particularly big games, but they both flashed their potential in limited minutes off the bench.

For Gasol, he finished with a team-high six assists in his third game with the Raptors, doing so in only 16 minutes of action. Three of his assists set up 3-pointers, two to Danny Green and one to Kyle Lowry.

The other three assists led to high percentage shots in the paint, highlighted by this beautiful dime to a cutting Norman Powell:

For Lin, he shook off a rough start to score nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter on 4-for-6 shooting. His patented midrange pull-up started to fall and he had a nice finish over former Raptor Jakob Poeltl that ended in a three-point play.

The Raptors can only hope there's a lot of that to come from both veterans as they get more and more comfortable in their new surroundings.

Nick Nurse ejected

Leading by one point with 3:33 left in the third quarter, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was given a pair of technical fouls during a timeout, resulting in an ejection from the game.

This was Nurse's first career ejection, leaving lead assistant coach Adrian Griffin in charge for the remainder of the game.

Griffin led the Raptors to victory in Nurse's absence and after the game, Nurse joked that his ejection was "worth every penny."

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