Thunder 91, Raptors 75
Nuggets from my notebook from Sunday’s win over the Raptors
- You knew this one was going to be a blowout. It was only a matter of how it would take shape and at what point it would get out of hand.
- The first turning point came early. The bench unit turned a 25-20 lead at the start of the second quarter into a 13-point lead midway through the period. That five-minute stretch pretty much won the game. Although they gave it a good fight, the Raptors simply didn’t have enough horses to keep up with the Thunder.
- The stretch that put it away came when the Thunder finally decided to wake up and win this thing late in the third quarter. Toronto pulled within 58-55, and the Thunder just turned it on and ran away, ending the quarter on a 12-0 run before opening the third with another 12 straight. That’s 24 unanswered for you mathematically-challenged. It put the Thunder up 82-55 with 9 1/2 minutes left to play. Ballgame.
- The Raptors went 8 minutes, 56 seconds without scoring during that run.
- The Thunder did a really good job of spreading the court and executing the drive-and-kick game to blow open the game. OKC started hitting shots and really picked up its defense, too. That mix was too much for Toronto.
- The ball movement was really working during the run. The Thunder had five assists in that spurt and did a great job of getting contributions from everyone. James Harden led the way with eight points, Daequan Cook and Kevin Durant scored five apiece, Nick Collison had four points and Russell Westbrook scored two.
- Both teams were awful offensively aside from that one Thunder flurry. For much of the game, both the Thunder and Raptors were shooting below 40 percent. The Thunder ended up at 45.5 percent. The Raptors finished at 37.5 percent.
- Because of the below average offense, the most interesting thing in this one for about 2 1/2 quarters was the triple-double watch Westbrook had us on. He came out doing a great job of facilitating early, setting up Serge Ibaka for baseline jumpers and getting Kendrick Perkins an easy layup all within the first five minutes. And when you see Westbrook passing like that early, you know a triple-double is well within his grasp. Unfortunately, after scoring 11 points with six boards and six assists by halftime, Westbrook got just four more points the rest of the way without another rebound or assist. It was an up and down game for him overall, because of turnovers, a few bad passes and a few questionable shots. But he was great managing the game early.
- Thabo Sefolosha was the only Thunder starter to play in the fourth quarter. That’s been a great way for the Thunder to get rest this season, because Scott Brooks said he doesn’t plan on sitting his guys down the stretch.
- The three-game skid is over.
- Nick Collison on how crazy the NBA can be: “Four games ago we were playing our best basketball. And then we lose three straight.”
- Oh yeah, Denver’s loss at Golden State on Saturday night wrapped up the Northwest Division title for the Thunder. It’s the second straight division title for OKC. Expect another banner to be unveiled soon.
- Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani did not play in the second half with an injury his team called left calf tightness. Bargnani wasn’t exactly doing much to begin with in the first half, but, still, his absence didn’t help the Raptors one bit.
- Ed Davis looks like a sophomore in high school.
- Does any school produce more guys who flame out than UNC? Davis was supposed to be a stud. He’s still young, and I’m in no way saying he’s a bust. But he’s just kind of toiling in NBA obscurity.
- Derek Fisher has got one helluva high-arching foul shot. I never noticed until tonight. When he released the first of his two free throws tonight, it looked like it was going to come up five feet short.
- Fish made not one but two 3s tonight. Makes him 5-for-20 from deep since joining the Thunder. He went 2-of-8 from the field as he clearly was using this game to try to regain his offensive rhythm. Didn’t work tonight. But maybe it will have a domino effect.
- Fisher actually did two really encouraging things tonight. He showed more aggressiveness on offense, driving the ball to the basket rather than relying on the jumper that has failed him all year. And he played some pretty solid defense on Jose Calderon and Ben Uzoh.
- Calderon is really, really tough. Dude was out there playing with one good eye tonight. He had a shiner as big as Saskatewan on his right eye and still gave the Thunder 19 and 6.
- At some points, DeMar DeRozan will figure out that he can’t shoot.
- Before the game, I asked Brooks for a bit of an explanation on how he determines how he uses Ibaka. There have been times when Ibaka has had huge starts only to sit the bench while Perk or Collison get the burn. Brooks obliged and provided a tad bit of insight on how he manages all three of those bigs. “With Nick, I like to keep his minutes at a reasonable number just so we can continue to have great energy throughout the season. Knock on wood, he’s had a healthy year. With playing small, you only can play one big because Kevin is the other big depending on what type of center they throw on the floor. Like with (Roy) Hibbert, he gave us fits in the first half, but Perk did a good job of stopping him in the second half. That would have been a tough matchup for Serge. Serge is a great shot-blocker and a good help defender, but he’s working on being a better low-post defender. It’s one of the toughest decisions you have to make. The same thing with Thabo and James. It’s a tough decision, because Serge was having a lot of blocks in that game. I felt we needed a mixture of scoring and a low-post defender because of Hibbert’s ability to score at the block.”
- With the game well in hand, we were treated to the obligatory Cole Aldrich monster dunk in a blowout right on schedule in the waning minutes of this one.
- Tip of the cap to Thunder heads tonight. This game was against the Raptors, on Easter Sunday night, and the place was still packed. That speaks to how passionate the fan base has become.
- Up next. At Milwaukee on Monday.
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