OK, Kevin Durant, now that that’s out of the way, you can go watch your Skins.
In a most unusual noon central time tip, the Thunder were mostly prepared and ready (unlike some people), handling business over the Raptors 104-92. Other than those 12 minutes where Amir Johnson and Alan Anderson blacked out and made pretty much everything in the second quarter, the Thunder were in complete control from start to finish, using a strong third quarter to take over and cruise to their 26th win.
Put this one in the “40-degree win” category. No big takeaway, no big angle to talk about. KD was solid with 22 on 11 shots, Russell Westbrook had 23 and seven assists, Serge Ibaka had 19 and Kevin Martin had 16. Balanced scoring, but nothing all that notable. Except for Durant’s double-cross off DeMar DeRozan. That was definitely notable.
Not to try and make this win look impressive or anything, but do keep in mind the Raptors have been playing well lately, winning eight of their last 10 coming in. It’s not that they’re a good team, but when anyone is feel good about themselves and you’re playing them on the road when you’re normally taking a nap, it wouldn’t have been surprising had the Thunder come out half-asleep.
And when Anderson and Johnson were making everything in that second quarter, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking, “Here we go with this crap again.” Durant was probably thinking it, considering this is what he said after the loss to Brooklyn:
“Teams are going to make shots on us. Every team seems like they’re hot on us. Guys that usually don’t make shots make shots on us because we’re the Western Conference champs and been to the Finals. Everybody wants a piece of us. Everybody wants to beat us. So we know teams are going to give us their best shot … We have to be ready for it and most times we are.”
I’m pretty sure “guys that usually don’t make shots make shots on us” fits pretty well with Alan Anderson scoring 19 points on 7-8 shooting in the second quarter. But like KD said, being ready for that and responding to it is the key. A lot of teams, or players, can have a guy get hot for a quarter, or two. It’s rare though that someone has the horses to stay hot for four quarters. Because the Thunder do. Between Durant, Westbrook, Martin and sometimes Ibaka, OKC has the firepower to withstand hot shooting stretches and eventually wear down an opponent. Most times.
Anderson and Johnson combined to score 33 of the Raptors 50 first half points on 14-15 shooting. The rest of the team went 8-28 for 17 points. Second half though, Johnson and Anderson combined for 14 points on 4-10. Like I said, if you want to hang with the Thunder, you have to do one of two things: 1) Have those unlikely scorers sustain it for four quarters or 2) get someone else to step up, preferably the guys you’re paying the most money. In Toronto’s case that would be DeRozan, but he struggled the entire game going just 4-16 for 11 points. Kyle Lowry didn’t have much impact (10 points, eight assists) and Jose Calderon wasn’t very effective in the pick-and-roll game.
The Thunder handled their business well in this rare matinee tilt, which is good, because it means the Raptors lost. And with them playing so much better lately, they’re hurting the value of that top-three protected pick the Thunder of of theirs. So really, the Thunder won twice today.
- Nick Collison had seven rebounds in his first 10 minutes on the floor. I thought he was headed for another double-double. Alas, he finished with 10 points, eight rebounds in 21 minutes.
- Do people still make Jurassic Park jokes when watching the Raptors? Or is that only me? Every time Anderson got the ball in the second half, I was yelling (in my head), “Shooot her! Shooooooot her!”
- To finish the third today, Scott Brooks had a lineup of Jackson, Westbrook, Martin, Thabo and Collison. That’s not smallball. That’s tinyball.
- KD took 11 shot attempts today. And 11 times he threw his hands up in the air looking for a foul call.
- Eventually, it boiled over for Durant when he got jobbed on a charge call in the second half. KD picked up his sixth technical foul on the season, which is already one more than he had all of last year. And because I know you’re going to ask: 16 is the number you have to hit to be suspended.
- Amir Johnson has a bar code tattoo on the back of his neck. Jokes go here of what would happen if you scanned it.
- Part of me kind of wonders if Maz Trakh is employed by the Thunder simply to be the coach that gives halftime interview to Lesley McCaslin.
- There is absolutely nothing more that the Thunder broadcast loves than showing people on the road wearing Thunder stuff. I think we get more footage of that than actual gameplay.
- Serious question: Have you ever seen Jose Calderon with his mouth closed?
- Plus/minus for the starting five is pretty today. Durant led the way as a +28, Ibaka a +25, Perk a +21 and Westbrook a +15. Everyone on the bench, sans Martin (+1) was a minus though.
- The Thunder have quietly been killing teams on the glass lately. OKC outrebounded Toronto 41-31 today, piling up 12 offensive boards.
- I may get no bigger kick out of anything than hearing an opposing crowd ooh and ahh at something Westbrook or Durant does. It’s the ultimate satisfaction.
- Remember that one time the Raptors gave Landry Fields a three-year, $20 million contract?
- Seriously though, this noon start time was pretty nice. But for KD? How perfect is it? He gets to go watch his Skins now, and even better than that, the team’s flying to Washington next. It’s like he planned this trip himself.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “Collison looked like that logo, the NBA logo, which is Jerry West.”
Next up: At Washington tomorrow night.