How bad were things going for the Raptors? Kyle Lowry departed the scene early on with a sprain, and matters did not get worse. The Thunder were up 30-17 after the first quarter, 57-38 at the half, and won it by 20, 108-88.
Still, there were bright spots for Toronto. Jonas Valančiūnas, the #5 draft pick by the Raptors last year — they were unable to buy him out of his Eurocontract at the time — put in a solid 31 minutes at center, with a team-high 18 points on 6-8 shooting, and José Calderón makes a perfectly plausible sixth man. On the downside, DeMar DeRozan had DeWorst night he’s had in a while, shooting 2-10 and watching four swats.
With the starters exiting early, both benches got a workout, with OKC’s reserves outscoring Toronto’s by one point (42-41). Unsurprisingly, Kevin Martin led the Thunder bench with 15; not at all unsurprisingly, Hasheem Thabeet managed ten points (and, of course, six fouls). That rare crossbreed, the Average Russell Westbrook, showed up tonight to claim game-high honors with 19. And for OKC, it was the kind of night where Kevin Durant could score only 15 and still finish +23.
This was another of those “When all else fails, go for the long ball” nights for both sides: the Raptors made seven of 30, the Thunder nine of 25. And just to say they did, Toronto went to a 2-3 zone briefly in the third quarter, which baffled OKC for a couple of minutes, but no longer.
Next: Thursday night in Chicago. The Bulls thrashed the Thunder in the preseason, but hey, that was preseason. Derrick Rose is still out, which may or may not make a difference. Right now, I’m thinking it doesn’t.