OG Anunoby scored 22 points, Pascal Siakam had 20 points and 11 rebounds and the short-handed Toronto Raptors beat the San Antonio Spurs 117-112 on Wednesday night.
Birch had 14 points and six rebounds in his first start for Toronto, which enjoyed a 54-42 rebound advantage.
“It was a good showing for them,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “Their presence on the glass made a difference. They were active and they were forces. They eliminated some of the offensive rebounds that have been hurting us.”
Gillespie contributed nine points, eight assists and three blocks in 19 minutes.
“Every coach made it clear that they wanted rim protection, and that’s what I’m trying to give them,” said Gillespie, who is playing on a 10-day contract.
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Rookie guard Malachi Flynn had a big fourth quarter for the Raptors, scoring eight of his 16 points in the period and finishing with seven assists.
Derrick White led San Antonio with 25 points, Patty Mills added 23 and DeMar DeRozan kept the Spurs in the game with some fourth-quarter scoring, but they lost the inside game.
Anunoby scored nine points in the early minutes of the second half, helping Toronto move ahead by nine — the largest lead for either team until late in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs answered with a 13-3 run that was capped by a pair of 3-pointers by White to regain the lead.
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But Toronto pulled ahead late in the game when Flynn set up Birch for a dunk with a lead pass, then hit a 3-pointer and a turnaround jumper for a 110-97 lead with 3:24 left.
“I feel like playing with this team, I’m kind of breaking out of a box,” said Birch, who signed with the Raptors last week after playing two seasons with Orlando, the Raptors’ next opponent.
“Not to be disrespectful, but I always knew I could do this type of stuff, but I think I can do more,” Birch said. “I feel like I’m gaining confidence right now.”
Paul Watson, playing for the first time since March 24 after missing 10 games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocol, hit two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter for Toronto.