“The Raptors,” said Royce Young of Daily Thunder, “aren’t some pushover that you should be able to walk by,” and they impressed this fact on various Thunder backsides at Air Canada Centre, turning a seven-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead in a mere twelve minutes. Radio guy Matt Pinto grumbled about some of the calls, or more precisely some of the non-calls, but even he’d concede that Toronto simply outplayed Oklahoma City tonight: they had more rebounds (42-34), more assists (29-22), a better shooting percentage (54.9-43.7), and where it matters most, more points (111-99).
The absence of Kevin Durant, which up to this point hadn’t been much of a problem, was keenly felt: apart from his scoring prowess, Kid Delicious has been a defensive stalwart of late, and in that deadly third quarter, the Thunder defense disintegrated. Scott Brooks went small, and when that failed, went smaller; the end result was giant Andrea Bargnani rolling up 26 points and 12 rebounds. Leandro Barbosa was fearsome off the bench with 22. And José Calderón, the only Toronto starter not to score in double figures, contributed 15 assists to go with his 8 points.
Offensively, the Thunder weren’t too awful, with both Russell Westbrook and James Harden scoring 20, plus 17 from Jeff Green, and one could argue that the defense wasn’t that bad, what with eleven steals and seven blocked shots. But stops, when needed, were few and far between, and nobody had an answer to Amir Johnson (14 points), who didn’t miss the bucket even once all night.
Or you could simply point out that the Raptors, after a 2-9 start, are now 8-11, and that there is such a thing as being on a roll.
I am not comforted by the fact that the next game (1) is at home (2) against the Warriors; it’s a Sunday, and the Thunder’s 0-4 record on Sunday indicates that somebody’s taking that “day of rest” business a bit too seriously. Besides, it’s the first half of a back-to-back. And beating the Bulls in Chicago on Monday doesn’t look at all like a sure thing.