It was 40-34 after the first quarter, and long-suffering Thunder fans knew what was about to happen: their team would go strangely inert during the second, and the Raptors would pounce. And that’s exactly what happened, with an unexpected twist: OKC got going before halftime and took a 66-64 lead. After that, things got seriously knotted, tied at 116 with five minutes left, and the seesaw kept going. Then the Raptors totally lost their composure, capped off with a couple of technicals and a trip by DeMar DeRozan to DeLockerRoom, after which it was 132-125 OKC, and with eight seconds left, Billy Donovan sent in the reserves to dribble it out and claim the season sweep. Fred Katz of the Transcript summed it up nicely:
Or so it seemed. It didn’t hurt that the Thunder had a 39-31 rebounding lead, a 31-27 edge in assists. But still: 25 lead changes in 48 minutes. And with Kyle Lowry (22 points) on the bench with six fouls and DeRozan (24 points) um, elsewhere, the Thunder ended that game on a 7-0 burst. Weirdly, the bottom of the plus/minus chart was occupied by Serge Ibaka, who was 2-11 for seven points, a -23 for the day, and a technical late in the fourth during the whatever-the-hell it was that happened to the Raptors as time wound down.
Still, this isn’t going to knock the Raptors out of first in the East; they still own a four-game edge over the Celtics, who tonight play at New Orleans before returning home for a Tuesday match with, um, Oklahoma City. Meanwhile out West, the Trail Blazers are on a 12-game winning streak to cement their hold on third, with the Thunder fourth at 43-29. The logjam continues, though: San Antonio, Minnesota and Utah are all 43-30, and the Pelicans are 39-30. This must be what they mean by “down to the wire.”