Thunder 132 – Raptors 125: great game spoiled

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry & Oklahoma City Thunder - Russell Westbrook (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry & Oklahoma City Thunder - Russell Westbrook (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Raptors and Thunder went at each other in an offensive outburst. Sadly, the game ended in depressing fashion with the refs losing control, and OKC gaining it.

The Toronto Raptors and the OKC Thunder were like a pair of prize fighters who had forgotten how to cover their faces, or in the hoops context, play defense. Basket piled on basket all game (25 lead changes and 20 ties!), until the final minute, when all H-E double hockey sticks broke out.

By the time the smoke cleared, a 125-125 tie had devolved into a 7-point Thunder lead, with 3 of those points scored via technical fouls. Kyle Lowry, who had fouled out earlier in Q4, was joined on the sidelines (actually, the dressing room) by DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and even coach Dwane Casey. Our people got tossed by an in-over-their-heads trio of referees who had missed calls all game, then got whistle-happy in crunch time.

TORONTO, CANADA – MARCH 18: Steven Adams
TORONTO, CANADA – MARCH 18: Steven Adams /

Too many passengers

The Raptors could have pulled this game out of the fire, as they had received some dandy performances by Kyle, DeMar, Delon Wright and Pascal Siakam. However, their front court mates failed them repeatedly, leading to 14 offensive rebounds, and 16 second-chance points, for the visitors. Perhaps more damning were the results put up by center Steven Adams. He had 20 points and 8 rebounds, while his Raptors counterpart, Jonas Valanciunas, could muster only 10 and 2(!). The chemistry between Westbrook and Adams on the pick and roll reminded me of the glory days of Jose Calderon and Chris Bosh.

Serge Ibaka, who should have been benched due to wretched shooting, didn’t make up for his problems in other facets of the game. He grabbed 6 boards in almost 30 minutes, was a spectator far too often, and ended a ghastly minus_23. Why Lucas Nogueira, who was plus_15 in only 6+ minutes of Q2 play, didn’t get tapped again by coach Casey is a mystery I can’t solve.

OKC is for real

The Thunder are an explosive team, and their chief bomber, Russell Westbrook, enjoyed a dominant afternoon. He racked up a triple-double, and was particularly dangerous after a Raptors bucket. The man is lightning fast, sometimes to his detriment. He committed 5 turnovers.

Kyle punched back hard, including 5 of 7 from deep, but was victimized by some dubious calls (who wasn’t? JV was called twice for imaginary travels). I thought Lowry’s sixth and final foul was a sound call, but at least two previous were silly.

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By game’s end, the refs were being laughed at by both teams. OKC had done its share of whining, but only Carmelo Anthony got T-ed up. The sour, foul-infused ending was unworthy of a remarkably exciting match which should have been decided by the players.

The Raptors 11-game win streak is history. Now they must begin a new one in Orlando on Tuesday night. Then, 24 hours later, they stop off in Cleveland.