SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs opened up the 2018-19 season with a bang.
They left all the summer time changes behind and focused forward with a new starting lineup and new players a coming off the bench, but an old look to the start of the season a nice win.
The Spurs beat Minnesota 112-108 and are now 20-2 in home openers during the Gregg Popovich era.
Spurs fans got to see what they have been waiting for for most of the summer, DeMar DeRozan in action and he did not disappoint. He finished with 28 points.
"The first one is always the hardest one, but it felt good out there," said DeRozan.
With the game still in doubt down the stretch, he took over and scored nine in the fourth quarter.
"I just feel out the game and always try to be aggressive. Those are the moments I always want to be in. I'm not afraid to make mistakes, and with that, I'm not afraid to go out there and win a game," DeRozan said.
On a night when LaMarcus Aldridge struggled from the field, he found other ways to contribute like pulling down 19 rebounds, 8 on the offensive end. Aldridge finished with 21 points on 7 for 23 shooting.
"He couldn't make a shot but he was a horse on the board and on defense," said Gregg Popovich.
"It was a rough night for me," Aldridge said. "Haven't found my offensive rhythm yet. Get my legs under me, find that rhythm so when in doubt you have to find other things to do."
The Spurs also got some help from Rudy Gay who had 18 before tweeking an ankle.
Bryn Forbes also had an impressive start as the starting point guard with 11 points.
The Spurs now hit the road for two, in Portland Saturday and then they will head to LA to get their first look at LaBron James' Lakers.
In the meantime, DeRozan said he was impressed with the fans buying up his No. 10 jersey.
So many of his jerseys have been sold, he was looking to buy one for his mom but couldn't find one.
"It's crazy, I tried to get my mom a jersey last week and it was sold out," DeRozan said. "I was trying to tell her that and she didn't believe me."
The way he started the season and if he keeps it up may not get easier for him to find one.
DeMar DeRozan postgame (Part 1) #Spurs #Wolves...talked about big night...said 'he's NOT afraid to go out there and try to win the game'...added the team was telling him to take over late in the 4Q...also felt love from fans. DDR finishes with team high 28 points #KSATsports #NBA pic.twitter.com/V0zzrAYOM8— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) October 18, 2018
Timberwolves: Teague was down on the court for about 10 seconds in the fourth quarter after tweaking his right ankle on an offensive foul, but gave officials a thumbs-up and remained in the game. ... Minnesota is 3-10 all-time when opening the season on the road. ... The Timberwolves are 9-50 against the Spurs in San Antonio. Their last win in San Antonio was April 17, 2013.
Spurs: San Antonio had eight new players on its roster for the season opener for the first time since 1992. The Spurs finished 42-33 that season after firing Jerry Tarkanian 20 games into the campaign. ... DeRozan has played 23,000 minutes in his career, joining Aldridge, LeBron James, James Harden and Russell Westbrook as the only players to do so since 2009. ... Poeltl made just his fifth career start and first since Feb. 14 2017 with Toronto.
PAYING HOMAGE TO ALLEN
The Spurs observed a moment of silence prior to the game for Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen.
Allen passed away Oct. 15 from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Aldridge, who played his first nine seasons in Portland before signing with the Spurs in 2015, said it will be difficult to return to the city after Allen's passing.
"He was a great guy and he blessed me and my family and invited us into his world at times," Aldridge said. "I went to the game against Green Bay in his suite. It's definitely bittersweet going back this time."
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Popovich was asked if this could be his final year coaching in the NBA and he responded with his usual dry wit.
"Anything can happen. I might coach 10 more years or quit in a month," he said.