The Raptors descended from Canada with a 4-0 record and the amazing ability to avoid fouling. (The Thunder tonight literally didn’t get a free throw until midway through the second quarter.) I wouldn’t have expected a titanic defensive struggle, but the 23-16 first-quarter score made me wonder. Toronto took a one-point lead at the half, 40-39; weirdly, Oklahoma City dominated the third quarter, 42-33, as though someone from the heavens, or Secaucus, or someplace, decreed: “Okay, you guys can score now.” The first order of business for OKC was to somehow DeFang Toronto’s DeMar DeRozen; they did occasionally keep DeRozen more or less at bay from the floor, but they had to foul him to do it, and when they didn’t foul him, DeRozen was free to inflict DeStruction. (DeRozen’s line is instructive: 7-18, but 14-15 from the stripe.) And after that, the Raptors depart 5-0, having dispatched the Thunder 103-98.
Did we mention DeRozen’s 14-15 on free throws? The entire Thunder squad was 12-14. It wasn’t a bunch of questionable calls, either: Toronto simply played it as cleanly as they could, apart from one hissy fit by Bismack Biyombo that earned him a T. (The return of the Telltale Statistic: of the 16 personal fouls committed by the Raptors, nine came from Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry, each of whom scored 17 points. OKC was hit with 29 fouls.)
OKC ball movement seems marginally better these days; 26 assists were recorded, 16 of them by Russell Westbrook. But Double Zero also had eight of the team’s 19 turnovers to go with his 22 points. (That Durant guy, in case you were wondering, logged 27.) And what’s going to burn the team’s ears on the way to Chicago is this: they had a 97-91 lead. The Raptors finished them off with a 12-1 run. That 1, incidentally, was a KD foul shot; he missed the second, and some thought it was deliberate, to set up a rebound. It ended, not as tragedy, but as farce: a jump ball in which Valanciunas somehow made Serge Ibaka look slow.
As long as Billy Donovan is reviewing things, he might call the lost-and-found, and see if anyone’s found the team that crushed the Spurs on opening night. They’ve got to be around somewhere.