It’s no gold medal, but at least the United States beat Canada in something today.
It was a very business-like performance by the Thunder at home tonight, disposing of a Chris Bosh-less Toronto Raptor squad 119-99, to get back to 12 games over .500. Oklahoma City was efficient offensively (52 percent from the floor), played excellent defense against a great offensive team (43 percent, 99 points for a team averaging 107) and came out with great energy to start and sustained it through the game. If this recap is reminding you of the Minnesota one, it’s because the games were pretty similar. OKC led by as many as 26, never let it get close and just kind of ran away and hid in this one.
It was another game Russell Westbrook completely controlled (14 points, 10 assists, four steals), Kevin Durant scored well (29 points on 9-18 shooting)in and the Thunder got solid contributions from Serge Ibaka (13 points, 10 rebounds), Nenad Krstic (16 points) and Jeff Green (20 points, 3-3 from 3). Honestly, there’s just not a ton to say about this one other than Oklahoma City played well, Toronto really didn’t and the Thunder blew them out.
What’s clear, is that the Raptors are a really, really bad defensive team. They don’t communicate, they don’t rotate and in some circumstances, they don’t try. One possession that stood out to me came in the first half. Jeff Green had the ball on the right block with Andrea Bargnani checking him. Amir Johnson couldn’t decide whether to come double Green or to stay on Serge Ibaka, who was under the rim. Johnson basically split the difference, defending no one and Green dished to Ibaka for a flush. That kind of sums up the Raptors defensively. And it’s a large reason OKC dropped 119 points on them.
- The Raptors were going to have to get a big game from someone like Hedo Turkoglu if they were to hang tight. With Thabo checking him, Turkoglu had seven points on 3-8 shooting.
- One thing about Thabo: When he’s aggressive with the ball and is an offensive threat, he’s one of the three most valuable players on this team. Seriously.
- How about the alley oop from James Harden to Byron Mullens. That was darn impressive for a 7’2 big man to go up and flush one-handed.
- This is the first game since the All-Star break Harden hasn’t worn the headband. He went for 12 points on 4-8 shooting tonight.
- A new Durant nickname suggested in the Daily Dime chat tonight: Durant-eater. Doesn’t have the same ring as Durantula, does it? Or how about Durantelope? Or Durantichrist? Or Durantarctica? We had fun the chat tonight as you see. It’s what you do in a blowout.
- Was anyone else confused about Rumble’s birthday? First off, is he one or is he 200? According to his story, he’s been around for like a long time. So if he’s one, wasn’t his unveiling like on Feb. 12 last year? So is this a belated celebration? I’m confused.
- Nenad Krstic had an excellent offensive game tonight with Rasho Nesterovic guarding him. Krispy dropped 16 points on 7-9 shooting and hit a 3 before halftime.
- Russell Westbrook has somehow acquired takeover ability. I think we knew he could get there, but in the past three months, he’s grabbed the ability to own games. Which is what he did tonight. He got to the rim any time he wanted, created shots for teammates and just ran the game. Russ has made me wonder what he ceiling may actually be eventually. It’s just getting higher and higher.
- Toronto’s starters: 53 points. Toronto’s bench: 46.
- OKC turned the ball over just 11 times. The most any single Thunder player had was two.
- The Thunder’s main guys got to rest a little tonight. Westbrook played only 29 minutes. Durant 32. Green 34. And better, yet guys like Ibaka and Mullens saw extended minutes. These are good things about blowout wins.
After losing the two tough games last week, the response so far at home as been absolutely ideal. A blowout win over Minnesota and a blowout win over Toronto. OKC neutralized the two losses, got back to 12 games over and has a great chance to extend on another win streak. The team has shown a remarkable amount of focus and poise with the way they’ve responded. If there were any fears about a late seasons slide, I think these last two games have quelled that a bit. At least for me.
Next up: The Thunder marches on with another winnable home game Tuesday against the Kings.