At a critical point in the season where every game is essentially a must-win, the Oklahoma City Thunder went north and handled its business today against the Toronto Raptors. It was a back-and-forth affair that was decided in the final minute, but Russell Westbrook & Co. ultimately escaped with a 132-125 victory. The loss snaps an 11-game winning streak for the Raptors.
The Thunder offense was clicking from the jump, scoring 40 points in the first quarter and building a six-point lead after 12 minutes of play. The Raptors opened the second on a 20-4 run and took a 10-point lead at the midway point of the frame, but the Thunder was able to bounce back. Paul George scored eight points in a 22-10 run in the final six minutes of the half that helped OKC hold a 66-64 advantage at the break.
DeMar DeRozan got rolling in the third quarter, as Toronto outscored the Thunder by three and held a one-point advantage headed into the fourth. Business picked up from there, with the teams exchanging blows and battling it out well into the final 60 seconds of play. In the end, Russell Westbrook was simply too much for the Raptors to handle.
Westbrook shot 7-of-11 in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points in the final 12 minutes of play. With the game tied at 123-123 with just under two minutes remaining, went into overdrive and won the Thunder the game. A driving layup put OKC up two with 39 seconds remaining. He then hit a banking jumper on the next possession, putting the Thunder up four with just 12 seconds to go. Ballgame.
Westbrook led the way with 37 points, 13 rebounds, and 14 assists — his 23rd triple-double of the season. Steven Adams had a monster game, contributing 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Paul George was next up with 22 points and three steals. Every member of the Thunder starting five scored in double-figures.
The win moves the Thunder to 43-29 on the season and makes OKC 5-2 against the Raptors, Rockets, and Warriors. Now for some notes on the big win north of the border.
55.7: The Thunder shot 55.7 percent from the floor. Toronto hit on 56.8 percent of its attempts.
15: OKC got the win despite Toronto hitting 15 shots from long range. The Raptors went 15-of-30 from deep.
+11: The Thunder held a 34-23 advantage in free throw attempts. OKC went 24-of-34 from the stripe, good for just 70.6 percent.
+8: OKC won 39-31 on the glass, including 14-8 on the offensive end.
27: It was a nice day of sharing for the Thunder. There were 27 assists handed out.
19 & 28: The Raptors turned the ball over 19 times, resulting in 28 points for OKC.
25 & 20: There were 25 lead changes and 20 ties. As Brian Davis would say, we were “riding the seesaw” all day.
Russell Westbrook had himself a ball game today in Canada. His final stat line:
37 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists, 2 steals, 15/22 FG, 1/1 3P, +17
The triple-double was his fifth straight and 23rd of the season. What’s more, he stepped up in a monster way when the game hung in the balance. The Thunder trailed by one entering the fourth quarter — then Russ took over and shot 7-of-11 from the floor and scored 17 of his 37 points in the final 12 minutes of basketball.
Speaking with Lesley McCaslin after the game, Westbrook explained his approach, saying, “I am a man on a mission. We’ve got to take care of business. This time of year, it’s time to turn it up a notch.”
Mission accomplished today against the East’s top team.
Full Westbrook highlights:
Steven Adams was electric in his second game back from a hip injury, dropping a stat line that dominates headlines if Westbrook doesn’t go full Brodie Mode. His line:
Adams: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 10/13 FG, +20
He did most of his work in the first half, scoring 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting in the opening two quarters. The Thunder still needs to establish a way to keep him rolling in late game situations, but it’s hard to be too critical in a winning effort.
Full Adams highlights:
Every member of the Thunder starting five reached double-figures in scoring — combining to score 109 points on 41-of-67 (61.2 percent) shooting. This level of production was absolutely necessary, as the bench contributed just 23 points on an 8-of-21 (38 percent) clip.
Stat lines for the other starters — Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Corey Brewer:
George: 22 pts, 5 reb, 3 stl, 6/14 FG, 10/12 FT, +21
George went 0-of-3 from long range but was fantastic at getting to the line and converting those opportunities. Like Adams, he didn’t do much after halftime and didn’t attempt a shot in the fourth quarter. Still some things to iron out there.
Melo: 15 pts, 6/10 FG, 3/4 3P, +21
Melo was fantastic in his approach, shooting only 10 times and hitting on 60 percent of those looks. In an interesting stat from Micah Adams of ESPN, the Thunder is now 7-0 when Adams attempts more shots than Melo. Another bit of history in this one: Melo passed Reggie Miller for 19th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Brewer: 10 pts, 3 stl, 4/8 FG, 2/4 3P, +13
The Thunder improves to 6-0 with Brewer in the starting lineup. It’s clear OKC will never lose again and we all know why.
The Other Guys. Six Raptors scored in double-figures: Demar DeRozan (24), Kyle Lowry (22), Delon Wright (15), CJ Miles (15), Pascal Siakam (10), and Jonas Valciunas (10).
The OKC Bench. Really poor day for members of the Thunder bench. Here are the guys who logged more than 10 minutes and their plus-minus numbers: Jerami Grant (-13), Patrick Patterson (-14), Raymond Felton (-18), Terrance Ferguson (-16). Josh Huestis was the only reserve to finish in the positive, wrapping up as a +4 in just six minutes of action.
Friendly Whistle. The Thunder found itself on the favorable end of some questionable whistles today in Toronto. Kyle Lowry fouled out in a tie game with 3:19 remaining. DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, and coach Dwane Casey were all ejected in the final 15 seconds of the game after complaining at the refs. The technical free throws from these calls provided the final margin of victory for OKC.
Back in action on Tuesday night in Boston. Thunder at Celtics tips-off at 7:00 PM CT on TNT and Fox Sports Oklahoma.