Kawhi Leonard and Gregg Popovich shared a special moment after final whistle

Lessons De Mar DeRozan learned in Toronto are yielding dividends on and off the court in San Antonio

Two squads from opposing conferences coming off victories in their latest matchups are clashing, when the San Antonio Spurs (21-17), are hosting the Toronto Raptors (28-11), with both teams having lost only once in their last four games and looking to continue on the winning ways. No, not at all.

Asked about the possibility that Leonard could be booed by Spurs fans, Popovich said he hoped the former NBA Finals MVP would be given an easy ride.

And his old coach, I'm guessing, will always have a special place in his heart for Leonard for what they accomplished together.

But Leonard did admit he wishes the drama between he and the Spurs had played out differently.

It was also an emotional night for DeMar DeRozan, who never wanted to be traded by the Raptors.

San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan talks to the media during USA Basketball's minicamp Thursday, July 26, 2018, at the Mendenhall Center on the campus of UNLV.

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DeRozan ended the half with a bit of recent history in his pocket, as he became the first Spur to have 15-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and 5-plus assists in a half since Tim Duncan did so in 2007.

"I didn't want to put too much pressure on it", DeRozan told TNT after the game. He ultimately forced the trade that sent him and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for a package headlined by DeRozan.

Thursday night was a big game for DeRozan as it marked the first time in his 10-season career he ever faced the Raptors, the team that originally drafted him ninth overall in 2009.

"I don't speak for other people, but I hope that we'll treat everybody with kindness and respect", Popovich said.

The Spurs now have a record of 22-17 and are seventh place in the Western Conference. "We'll see tonight, I don't know". There was plenty of pomp and circumstance, including some highly anticipated pre-game booing, and the duo of Leonard and Danny Green even received the customary tribute video that you would expect.

Five months later, DeRozan said he hadn't thought much about the matchup against his former team. "Just go out there and have fun".

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