Jan 6, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) tries to get past Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) at the Air Canada Centre. The Thunder beat the Raptors 104-92. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant & sound defense lead Oklahoma City Thunder to 104-92 win over Raptors RECAP “So that’s what a good team looks like”

Jan 6, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) loses the ball to Toronto Raptors center Amir Johnson (15) as guard Alan Anderson (6) helps out at the Air Canada Centre. The Thunder beat the Raptors 104-92. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder demonstrated all too clearly why they are a championship-grade squad. Despite a marvellous game by Alan Anderson, OKC took an early lead & except for a brief shining moment in Q2, never relinquished it. Their best players are young veterans, who carved up the Raptors defence to the tune of 49% shooting, despite only hitting 6/22 3-balls. You don’t need advanced math to conclude the Thunder were scoring with ridiculous efficiency inside, as Westbrook, Durant & Serge Ibaka penetrated time & again. Kevin Martin bounced off the bench to hurt the Raps from outside when the Thunder played dribble-kick.

The game was not a disaster for the Raps – they didn’t lose this one like they did against the Kings, they got beat. After a lackluster Q1, which the Raps were lucky to escape with only a 5-point deficit, Anderson started the second quarter & was magical. He poured in 19 points, including four 3-balls, one of which became a 4-pointer when he was steamrolled by Ibaka. The Thunder adjusted, & Alan didn’t get a lot of breathing room for the duration. However he was wily enough to start driving, & had 8 more points in the second half. He wasn’t getting a lot of help. The Raps were frequently up against the shot clock due to the Thunder’s smothering D, & a lot of hopeless shots were launched as a result. DeMar DeRozan took several of those without success, & wasn’t doing well penetrating either, ending with 11.

The Thunder won the game in Q3, stretching their lead from two points at half to 11 in a near-clinical fashion. At no point in Q4 did the Raps look like they were on the comeback trail, as the Thunder pushed the margin to 21 before both teams’ benches got to play. Amir Johnson emerged from his scoreless disaster against Sacramento to score 19, a number of them on foul line jumpers when the Thunder gave him space. He reminded me of Charles Oakley – slow to set up, & with no discernible jump, yet the ball splashed many times. Ed Davis had a number of open looks but couldn’t connect in the second half. We need more than 4 points & 3 boards from him. Terrence Ross couldn’t get untracked, as the Thunder were in his face on the perimeter, & didn’t score. In one of those statistical anomalies which occasionally occur in every sport, TR was plus12 for the game, largely because he was on the floor during Anderson’s Q2 spree.

The Raptors have a few days to prepare for the Philadelphia 76ers, who are in town on Wednesday.

Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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