The Spurs won the first meeting Jan. 3 in San Antonio, 125-107, with DeRozan producing his first career triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Leonard scored 21 points as the Spurs thoroughly dominated the game. He was also booed by the home crowd, fallout from his request to be traded following a season in which played only nine games because of a quadriceps injury.
It should be a different story for DeRozan, who wanted to be a career-long Raptor and was disappointed by the trade. He had re-signed with the Raptors in July of 2016 when he could have gone elsewhere for more money. “I am Toronto,” he had said.
Friday’s game will also feature a matchup of the Gasol brothers — Pau, 38, with San Antonio and Marc, 34, with Toronto.
“The older you get, the more you cherish it,” said Marc Gasol, who be playing his fourth game for the Raptors after being traded from the Memphis Grizzlies. “To me, you value it more. You understand how hard it is to play against your brother, and do it at this stage and for that long.”
Despite his great game against the Raptors, DeRozan struggled in January and was not named an All-Star for just the second time in six years.
The Spurs hope the rest helped clear up knee and ankle injuries that have hampered him. DeRozan is leading the Spurs with 21.4 points despite averaging 16.3 points and shooting 40.9 percent in January. He improved slightly in February, including a 35-point game on Feb. 7 at Portland.
DeRozan is the Raptors’ all-time leader in points (13,296), field goals (4,716), free throws (3,539), games (675) and wins (353).
All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 23 points against Toronto in San Antonio, has been the key for the Spurs.
“He’s been our rock, a beast,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “With all the turmoil last year (with Leonard’s situation) and this year losing Dejounte Murray (to a season-ending torn ACL in the preseason) and then losing Derrick White (for several games to injuries), he’s been the one consistent factor. He’s played night after night. He’s been fantastic.”
With the arrival of Gasol and guard Jeremy Lin, Raptors coach Nick Nurse feels his team is more versatile.
“I think we can go a little bigger if we want to,” Nurse said. “We can go a lot bigger. We played Serge (Ibaka) and Marc (Gasol) together, and Pascal (Siakam). That gave us a third thing to do. We may have found something there that is maybe advantageous to our team as a whole.
“I could see us being able to play really big, and then at times putting all of our little penetrators out there and playing small and fast, which is what I want to do.”
The Raptors signed shooting guard Jodie Meeks to a 10-day contract on Wednesday. Meeks has not played in the NBA since April when, as a Washington Wizard, he was suspended for violating terms of the NBA/NBPA anti-drug program. He is a career 37.2 percent shooter from 3-point range.