It is never a good sign when Jerami Grant fouls out, even when he’s rolled up 19 points. And when he did, Kawhi Leonard, who never misses a foul shot, easily swished a pair, and the next five Raptors points as well. The difference from Wednesday night, though, was that the Thunder were actually ahead; they’d come back from 13 down in the third quarter to take a six-point lead with 53 seconds left. Thirty-four seconds later, Toronto had made up none of that deficit; a thirty-foot air ball was the Raptors’ last shot, and OKC escaped the Great White North with a seven-point win, 116-109, splitting the season series, all two days of it, and putting an end to the most recent four-game losing street. It doesn’t seem possible, but the Thunder have won their last four games in Ontario, a place where Western teams generally go to die.
Still, the Raptors had most of the numbers on their side: a solid 50-percent shooting, 52 percent on the long ball, and 46 over 39 in rebounding. But sometimes, as Mr Jagger would point out, you get what you need: 45 percent from the floor, 47 from beyond the arc — 20 out of 43, which is almost scary for this team — and OKC distributed 30 assists, compared to 20 for Toronto. And ultimately, what did in the Raptors was ball control, or lack thereof: they coughed up 22 turnovers. Kawhi was Kawhi, of course, finishing with 37; Pascal Siakam nailed 25, and Danny Green (6 of 11 treys!) had 19.
Russell Westbrook had one of those weird triple-doubles: he was a blah 6-20 from the floor for 18 points, but he collected 12 boards and served up 13 dimes for a +18, one tick above Dennis Schöder, who outscored the entire Toronto bench with a startling 26 points. Paul George, who had only three fouls all night, headed the OKC side of the box with 28.
One more stop before coming home: Memphis, on Monday night. Despite already having been wiped off the playoff chart, the Griz are 19-17 in their house. And, as seemingly always in the West, there’s a logjam or two: Golden State and Denver (each 49-22) are of course on top; Houston (45-27) has the slenderest possible lead over Portland (44-27). But where it gets really hairy is fifth through eighth: OKC (43-30), the Clippers (43-30), the Jazz and the Spurs (42-30). Of course, nobody wants fifth if fourth can be reached.