Dec 22, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) handles the ball against Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (7) during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Raps 104 - Oklahoma City Thunder 98: No, that's not a typo

The Toronto Raptors punctured the perfect home record of the Oklahoma City Thunder with a come-from-behind triumph. Trailing by 9 points after a dreadful third quarter in which their shooting went frosty, the ball began falling again in Q4. OKC’s shooters become the chilly ones, and the Raps kept plugging away. They tied the match at 93, then pulled ahead by 5, following a Kyle Lowry 3-ball. The Thunder tied it at 98 with 1:39 to play – and neither team managed another field goal. The Raps, however, hit all 6 of their free throws, and a shocked and silent crowd filed out.

Dec 22, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Toronto Raptors power forward Amir Johnson (15) attempts a shot against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto rolled out to a 62-point first half, aided by balanced scoring from the starters and useful minutes from the much stronger second unit. Kyle led the way with 17 points, 3 of those coming when he put up an off-balance jumper with a second to play, was fouled, and drained them all. He also dished 6 assists. The Raps’ defense did its best, but the Thunder offense was almost as productive, using their frequent trips to the foul line to stay within 6.

Raps’ coach Dwane Casey has made some gaffs this season, but he was on his game tonight. His substitutions were well-judged, his timeouts likewise, and his decision following our last timeout to swing the ball into the backcourt with 22 seconds to play forced the Thunder to chase. By the time Amir Johnson (who provided a beefy double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds) was fouled, 8 precious seconds had ticked away. Terrence Ross struggled with his shot, so John Salmons came off the bench to play 30+ minutes and chip in 14 points. Jonas Valanciunas did not dominate the boards, but 13 hard-earned points were most welcome.

Despite Amir’s excellence, the Raps don’t win this game without Kyle. He ended with 22 points and 9 helpers, pulled down 7 boards, and let’s not forget a game-high 4 steals. If Masai Ujiri wants to trade this guy, he best extract a serious pound of flesh from somebody.

OKC’s offense was headlined by the usual suspects, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who combined for 51 points. It was the team’s 7 of 23 shooting from distance, and the failure of their bench to contribute, which led to OKC’s shocking defeat.

The Raps are now in the highly unfamiliar position of having a positive road record (7-6) and the lead in the Atlantic Division by percentage points over the Boston Celtics.

The road trip continues with a visit to the formidable San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor 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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Tags: Dwane Casey Kyle Lowry Oklahoma City Thunder Toronto Raptors

  • Dinos Charitopoulos

    This team has potential. Believe and build on this core.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Dinos:
      I wonder how Tank Nation is feeling today. The ex-Kings are really helping us. I want to see how Chuck Hayes plays, as I think he could be part of the core to build on as well. I don’t think the Raps have somehow morphed into a championship contender, but the playoffs are a reasonable expectation.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Rowdy101

    Hi Brian,
    I finally get to see some later games here out west. The last 4 games have been entertaining, even the loss to Charlotte (Jefferson was lights out in that game).
    The bit of glue that appears to be helping is Salmon, who is rescuing T-Ross when necessary. He is coming up with some big 3′s at key times, and keeping the games and attitudes close. T-Ross is now playing better, and taking better shots.
    Also of note is JV. He likes to win, and is proving it in the trenches. He still has trouble with the really big guys (ie. Jefferson), but he’s looking more confident by the day.

    Merry x-mas

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Rowdy:
      T-Ross needs to start making his shots inside the 3-point arc. He’s starting to create very nicely, but he’s not finishing. I agree about Salmons; coach Casey is showing a lot of confidence in him in crunch time.
      I wish Jefferson played for us. He has a soft touch around the hoop. .
      Jonas is getting better gradually. He’s got a lot of things to work on (footwork, receiving passes, outside jumpshots) but the trend line is definitely up. I agree about his desire to win, and that’s essential.
      If we can avoid the injury plague, and keep winning close games, this team will be worthy of hope. I’m glad to learn you’ll seeing more games.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • AM

    What a game. Hanging in with one of the top teams in the league for the entire game is difficult for anyone. Plus handing them their first home loss is impressive. Everyone contributing and both key posts having double-doubles each is a luxury for a coach and really helping out the perimeter guys.

    I can see Lowry testing the market since he’s playing so well. It would be nice for him to stick around though.

    What are your thoughts on Novak and Fields. To me, their two guys will will still have good value to other teams and their just not playing here anymore. Can you see them being traded?

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi AM:
      Yes, it was quite a game. I thought we were dead and buried after that brutal Q3, but our guys had other ideas. It’s remarkable how having a decent bench can help a team.
      I can definitely see both Novak and Fields being out the door before the deadline.
      In my post entitled “Masai Ujiri’s To-Do List”, I detailed my views on Fields. Suffice it to say that I think he needs a new home, but dumping his outrageous contract will be a feat. (I also express my wish for Kyle Lowry to stay.) As for Novak: he’s a specialist, and the Raps haven’t needed what he offers lately. When we finally get to face some of the poorer teams, I can see him getting some burn. How about lots of minutes in the upcoming home & home against the Knicks? If he’s going to be traded, he’ll need to be showcased.
      Thanks for commenting.