Raptors suffer double loss in OKC
OKLAHOMA CITY — Thunder coach Scott Brooks was happy to see his team get off to a fast start that made his job easy at the end.
Russell Westbrook shrugged off a sore shoulder to score 19 points and Oklahoma City cruised past the Toronto Raptors 108-88 on Tuesday night.
Serge Ibaka added 17 points for the Thunder, who led by as many as 29 before a sellout crowd of 18,203. They opened the game on a 30-17 run and never looked back.
“I thought the start was a big part of our win tonight,” Brooks said. “We’ve talked about this the last few days. We’re just starting to get in a defensive mindset.”
Two nights after a nine-point loss to Atlanta, when the Thunder gave up 31 points off 20 turnovers, Oklahoma City controlled the tempo, packed the lane and forced Toronto to try and score from the outside.
“We had good ball pressure and our bigs did a good job,” Brooks said. “Any time we can have four hands involved in a pick-and-roll we put ourselves in a position to have some success. I thought our activity and our deflections were good. We moved. We were all over the floor.”
Wearing a black padded sleeve to protect his bruised left shoulder, Westbrook held Toronto’s leading scorer, Kyle Lowry, to two points on 1-of-4 shooting. Lowry exited with 1:29 left in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain and did not return.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey turned the offence over to seventh-year guard Jose Calderon.
“Jose is a veteran player and he’ll be ready to go,” said Casey, whose team plays at Dallas on Wednesday night. “That’s why I kept his minutes to a minimum tonight. He’ll have to play big minutes and John (Lucas III) is a capable point guard, so they’ll have to be ready to go. Knowing Kyle, he’s a tough guy and he’ll get back as soon as he can.”
Lowry entered averaging 23.7 points per game. He also led the Raptors with 22 rebounds and 21 assists. His replacement, Calderon, had eight points and four steals in 19 minutes.
Kevin Durant and reserve Kevin Martin each scored 15 points for the Thunder, who never trailed after Durant converted a pair of free throws with 7:44 remaining in the first quarter.
Jonas Valanciunas led the Raptors (1-3) with 18 points and Andrea Bargnani had 16.
Casey said he “didn’t recognize” his team Tuesday night.
“We knew they would come out aggressive, focused and we had to meet that type of intensity and we didn’t,” the coach said. “That was disappointing for our young team, but it was a learning experience.”
Brooks was able to rest his starters in the fourth quarter as the Thunder improved to 2-2 with their highest-scoring game of the season.
Brooks played 13 of the 14 players on his roster, and Oklahoma City had six players in double figures.
“You need nights like that in the NBA,” Martin said. “You’re not going to be able to beat teams with three guys, and tonight Serge stepped up and Eric (Maynor) played well. They’re going to have nights like that and we’re going to need them.”
The Thunder shot 50 per cent from the floor in the first half to lead 57-38 at the break and finished the game shooting 47 per cent. Oklahoma City will play at Chicago on Thursday.
NOTES: The Thunder outrebounded Toronto 46-37, including 39-29 on the defensive end. ... Oklahoma City scored 42 points in the paint.