Observations, news and notes from Friday’s game……
* So I had lunch at Pizza Pizza today, which if you’ve ever been to Toronto you know those things are on ever corner. As I’m in line I notice a sign that essentially read if the Raptors score 100 points you get a free slice of Pizza. Right then and there I knew that if only I could get my hands on a ticket stub my fourth meal likely would come courtesy of the Raptors.
* I never got a stub. But Joey Graham’s 17-footer with 6:01 remaining made a lot of Raptors fans happy and basically sealed the Thunder’s fate.
* OKC is now just 5-34 under coach Scott Brooks when allowing 100 points or more. The Thunder is 14-6 when holding opponents to less than 100 points.
* The Thunder fell to 6-29 on the road this season and has two of its toughest road games of the season looming Sunday at Boston and Tuesday at San Antonio.
* A 17-2 run midway through the first quarter following the Thunder’s early 5-0 lead deflated OKC and it never could recover.
* Despite the poor showing, you wouldn’t believe how many Raptors media members and employees are gushing over the Thunder’s young core. Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook were talked about like basketball gods all day, starting at the morning shoot-around. Saying the locals are impressed with OKC’s future would be an understatement.
* You can look at Durant’s off night two ways. Either he still hasn’t completely regained his rhythm after missing those seven games with a sprained ankle. Or Raptors forward Shawn Marion did a good job of keeping a lid on him. Raptors coach Jay Triano went with the latter…..”I thought Shawn did an outstanding job guarding him,” Triano said. “He’s going to get fouled and he’s a great player, but Shawn was just kind of there all night. He has some length to challenge shots as well, and I thought the rest of the guys provided great support behind and he saw bodies all night.”
* Durant did get the call on his nifty little sweep through move twice in the first quarter alone, the first time he got it twice in a game if I’m not mistaken. He missed two of his four free throw attempts in the first quarter, however.
* Marion, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani man-handled the Thunder all night on the boards, combining for 33 rebounds or just four fewer than the entire Thunder team could muster.
* With three minutes remaining in the first half, Bosh already had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
* Raptors guards Jose Calderon and Roko Ukic controlled the tempo, combining for 19 of Toronto’s season-high 36 assists. Ukic had a career-high 10 in 22 minutes off the bench.
* Nick Collison’s string of impressive performances continued. He said after the game it’s because he’s intentionally become more aggressive.
* Russell Westbrook had a better shooting night than the past two games, going 5-for-11 for 10 points. Although his shooting and scoring have both been down, it’s becoming clear that he is evolving into a better playmaker. He’s slowing down and you can see the game coming to him easier. He’s finding his teammates and doing a better job of spreading the ball around. He would have finished with more than five assists tonight if more shots had fallen after he dished the ball.
*Thabo Sefolosha struggled offensive, going 1-for-7. Again, he did not record a steal and this time didn’t have a blocked shot either. Kind of surprising these days when he doesn’t finish with at least one of each. As for his shooting, I don’t think he needs to develop a deadly jumper. Every one always talks about the Thunder needing a shooter at his spot. I think having a defensive stopper there is a much better option. If he could just get a respectable set shot, something in the mold of Bruce Bowen, I think he could be pretty special because of his versatility. Tonight, in the first quarter alone, he airballed a wide open shot from the left corner and then hit the side of the backboard on a wide open J from the right corner. Those are the ones he has to knock down to tap into his full potential.
* Chucky Atkins still can’t find his stroke. Since his promotion to second-string point guard, he’s shooting just 27.5 percent from the field (11 of 40) and 20 percent from 3 (3 of 15).
* Most surprising stat of the game: 11 Thunder turnovers, one more than its season-low. But on this night even a positive turned into a negative, as the Raptors converted those giveaways into 20 points.