In the wonderful farce “Airplane!”, Lloyd Bridges’ character was constantly declaring (as the mock-tension was ratcheted up) “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit cigarettes” “…drinking” “…amphetamines” “…sniffing glue”.
The Raptors picked the wrong night to quit shooting accurately, in the process absorbing a hammering from the Thunder. This game was decided early, as the Raps were stuck on 17 points while the Thunder piled up the baskets. During a 9-minute stretch straddling Qs 1 & 2, the Raps managed 1 field goal. And from our “when it rains, it pours” file, Kyle Lowry rolled his ankle in Q2, went down in serious pain, & did not return. He is expected to play tonight in Dallas.
It’s not often that an NBA game enters garbage time as early as this one. The Raps were down 19 at half, & by 29 partway through the third quarter. Both teams substituted freely, so much so that every player suited for both teams hit the floor, which I can’t remember seeing before. The Thunder, who are so deep it’s hard to tell who’s considered a second unit player, were led in their balanced attack by Russell Westbrook (19 points). Serge Ibaka missed but 1 shot on his way to 17, & Kevin Martin & the NBA’s top scorer, Kevin Durant, each had 15. Before fouling out, Hasheem Thabeet had 10 points & 2 of OKC’s 9 blocked shots. The paint was a No-Fly-Zone for the Raps all night.
Turning to the Raps, whom Coach Dwane Casey said after the game he “did not recognize”, one must drill deep to find anything positive from such an embarrassment. Jonas Valanciunas led the scoring with 18 (well done, rookie), while Bargani, who reverted to his pylon-on-D self, had 16. Terrence Ross played 13+ minutes & added 10, including his first NBA 3-ball. Otherwise the scoresheet is littered with miserable stats. John Lucas was 1/9, while Alan Anderson missed all 5 shots he tried from distance. Landry Fields looks like he’s going to have a nervous breakdown; he can’t even finish the uncontested shots. He had 3 miserable points, & 2 boards. How long can this charade continue? DeMar DeRozan had no room to operate against OKC’s mobile bigs, & finished 2/10, & a shocking -27 to boot.
The Raptors received a rude notice last night about how steep the mountain is to becoming a top-rank team. The Thunder are already there, & toyed with our guys. In pro sports, it often helps to have a short memory. It’s time to think about how to beat the Mavericks.