Popovich hopes Leonard shown 'respect' on return

Arnold Nichols
January 5, 2019

With DeMar DeRozan set to play Toronto for the first time in his career, we look back at when the All-Star guard dropped a Raptors franchise record (and career-high) 52 points nearly a year ago exactly. So, I felt badly, honestly'.

"I think that goes with the kind of people the community of San Antonio are, and the class, and how family oriented the city is". Following the matchup in which Leonard struggled and the Spurs were able to come away with a convincing 125-107 victory, Popovich wasn't happy about the reception his former star player received.

DeRozan, meanwhile, told reporters Wednesday he hadn't thought much of Thursday's reunion.

DeRozan shot 7 for 15 from the field, collecting 13 defensive rebounds and finishing with just three turnovers in 33 minutes.

And as Raptors coach Nick Nurse pointed out, if there's any player unflappable enough to withstand a choir of 20,000 spiteful voices, it's Leonard. "He was in his fast, athletic gear tonight and when he's in that gear, he's tough to handle, as we all know".

The next confusing, strange, inspiring yet nearly heartbreaking chapter of this saga will be written on February 22nd, when DeRozan returns to Toronto for the first time in a non-Raptors uniform. DeRozan made the free throw amid chants of "MVP!"

Defeating one of the league's best teams is huge for the Spurs, who look to remain in the West's competitive playoff picture.

On an emotional night, the fans had their say even if Leonard may never publicly utter a word about the ordeal or take some blame for his exit. "We didn't play well at all defensively".

But his relationship with the franchise soured last season when a quadriceps injury limited him to nine games. Green ran over to and hugged Popovich prior to tipoff.

After another mesmerizing performance - which included a game-winning 3-pointer in overtime - Harden is averaging 40.1 points, 9.0 assists and 6.6 rebounds over his last 12 games.

DeRozan became the first Spurs player to record a triple-double at home since 2003, when Tim Duncan accomplished the feat.

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