Game 32 Recap: Thunder (17-15) def. Raptors (22-11) 98-97
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There’s no place like home.
Toronto native Shai Gilgeous-Alexander clicked the heels of his Nikes together three times and scored his career high of 32 points to lead OKC to an improbable upset against his hometown Raptors, including a running bank shot with 36 seconds left that ended up being the game winner.
“Y’all got a real one. He LOVES home,” Chris Paul told the hometown Toronto media members after SGA’s latest superstar level performance.
Okay, first off, speaking of home, I appreciate your usage of “y’all” there, CP3. Very Okie of you. Secondly, let’s reel it in on the emphasis about how much the Thunder’s new leading scorer loves his home before Thunder fans start getting some PTSD about our last leading scorer and how he loved his home so much that he forced a trade out of OKC.
While Shai was busy scoring the most points a Canadian basketball player has ever scored in an NBA game in Toronto, his North Carolina born backcourt mate had arguably just as good of a game. Paul almost pulled a Westbrook, I mean a triple double, by notching 25 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
As incredible as the Thunder’s dynamic point guard duo’s numbers were tonight, here’s the most eye popping number of the night: 81.
That’s how many minutes rookie Darius Bazley, two-way player Kevin Hervey, rookie and two-way player Lu Dort, and former G League players Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton combined to play against the Raptors. That’s 81 of a possible 240 Thunder game minutes.
With no Danilo Gallinari or Dennis Schroder, and playing in Toronto where the Raptors were 13-4 entering the game, it seemed like the Thunder would struggle to find enough scoring to fill Gallo and Schroder’s combined 36.4 point shoes.
To illustrate the point even further, Hervey, Dort, Nader and Burton combined to go 0-10 from 3 point range. Add in Terrance Ferguson and his 35 minutes, and the 3 point stats deflate even further to 0-15.
Thank goodness, New Balance and Mike Miller for Darius Bazley. The rookie went 4-7 from downtown and joined Nerlens Noel (13 points on 5 shots) as the only players outside of the Shai-CP3 combo to score in double digits.
While the supporting cast was hit and miss and miss and miss tonight, Shai and CP3 led the Thunder to another surprising, entertaining, impressive win in a season when they’re supposed to be rebuilding, or in the opinion of some fans, tanking. But it’s hard to tank when you have an aging superstar and an arriving superstar sharing the same backcourt.
Hopefully Shai will start to feel like Oklahoma is home. Because the more he piles up these star performances, the more Thunder fans will want this Canadian kid to become an OKC lifer.
- The fact that this OKC Thunder + OKC Blue mash up beat the Raptors in Toronto shows how special this group of players truly is and also what an excellent job Billy Donovan is doing this season.
- Dare I say… Coach of the Year candidate Billy Donovan?
- This is the third time in the past five games that SGA has notched 32 points. I’m not sure what Shai’s infatuation is with the number 32, but the Thunder are 3-0 when he hits the mark.
- Donovan’s new game plan going forward: make sure Shai scores 32.
- Yes, the Raptors were shorthanded as well. Toronto was missing Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell. But they’ve still been playing great without those guys because they have NBA ready players behind them. I cannot stress the drop-off level from Gallo, Schroder and Diallo to Hervey, Dort and Burton enough.
- Everyone: How is OKC gonna score without Gallo and Schroder? Shai: Hold my Molson Canadian.
- Just a PSA for Thunder fans since the Lu Dort hype is high: You can book Dort on the Cameo app to send a video message to your friends and family for only $20. That’s a steal.
- For comparison, JJ Barea costs $75 and Mo Bamba is somehow charging poor Magic fans $275 a pop. Haven’t Orlando fans already suffered enough, Mo?
- Big fan of Donovan subbing in Dort for Nader and trusting the rookie 2 way player to guard Fred VanVleet on the Raptors’ last possession. And Dort held up his end of the deal by smothering FVV, as did Ferguson with Kyle Lowry.
- Tonight was a big win for Thunder 2.0.
- Like a true vet leader, Chris Paul filled the shoes of post-game troll in Schroder’s absence.
- Thunder record first 16 games: 5-11
- Thunder record last 16 games: 12-4
- Up next: the Luka Doncic hype train rolls into OKC for the annual Thunder New Year’s Eve game.