Thunder 123 Raptors 102
TORONTO — After perhaps the poorest effort this season, the Toronto Raptors held a long and surely impassioned post-game meeting.
And when coach Dwane Casey finally emerged, his first words were an apology.
“That exhibition of basketball was unacceptable,” a seething Casey said. “I want to apologize to our fans, everybody, for the way we played tonight. The effort, the competitive spirit wasn’t there. That team came out and played like it was a championship game and we played like it was a middle of the season game.
“So I apologize.”
The Raptors were virtual spectators for the Russell Westbrook show Thursday, throttled 123-102 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While Casey normally addresses the media 10 to 15 minutes after the final buzzer, the coach didn’t emerge until a full 38 minutes post-game.
“A lot of people talked a lot,” P.J. Tucker said of the meeting.
“It was a good conversation but enough talking. We’ve got 14 games left, it’s time to put it into action, it’s time guys go out and show that we care about each other and we want to do something special here. We have the team to do it.
“It was terrible. It was a terrible game. There’s no two ways to put it, it was a terrible game.”
Westbrook had 24 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds for his 34th triple double of the season. He took less than three quarters to achieve it, and now needs just seven more triple doubles to beat Oscar Robertson’s single-season record. The guard put on an MVP-worthy show, including a spectacular bounce pass from half-court that went through the legs of a running Cory Joseph and into the hands of Victor Oladipo who finished with a basket.
DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points to lead the Raptors (39-29), who have won just once in their last four games.
The three-time all-star said the loss was all about effort.
“No excuse for it,” DeRozan said. “It’s something where we have to go out there and play hard, simple as that. No matter if we make or miss shots, we’ve got to go out there and play hard.
“We’ve got to play with pride and whatever you want to call it, a sense of urgency.”
Norman Powell had 13 points while Joseph added 11 and Delon Wright chipped in with 10 for Toronto, which shot a woeful 5-for-20 from three-point range.
Oladipo added 23 points for the Thunder (39-29).
The Raptors, who played their 11th game without Kyle Lowry, are trying to claw their way back up the Eastern Conference standings. They’re fourth and two-and-half games back of third-place Washington.
But they showed zero sense of urgency Thursday. Playing in their Drake-inspired black and gold uniforms, the Raptors trailed from the opening whistle. One decent — but brief — stretch during the second quarter pulled Toronto to within two points, but Westbrook and the Thunder quickly extinguished any hopes of a comeback, stretching their lead to as many as 27 points in the third quarter.
Leading 97-70 to start the fourth, the Thunder would go up by 30 points with just under nine minutes to play when Enes Kanter converted a three-point play. The Thunder’s biggest lead was 32 points before both coaches went to their benches for mop-up duty.
Casey was asked why his team didn’t show up to play.
“That’s what we’re going to find out,” he said. “We’re going to find seven or eight guys that are going to come out and compete. That’s what we’ve got to have. There’s no excuse, there’s none. You can’t even explain.”
The Thunder’s stat line, meanwhile, was all about hustle: they outrebounded Toronto 47-32, beat them 17-1 on second-chance points, and 14-4 on fast-break points.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan praised Westbrook, calling him an “old-school guy” when it comes to effort.
“He lines up every night and he goes up and plays. It’s amazing for 82 games,” Donovan said. “I don’t think there’s been a game this year he’s came off the floor and thought I didn’t leave it all out there.”
The Thunder sprinted out to an 11-point lead, but the Raptors closed the first quarter with a 10-4 run to cut Oklahoma City’s advantage to 29-24 heading into the second.
The Raptors pulled to within two points on a jumper by Jonas Valanciunas midway through the second, but Westbrook orchestrated an 18-6 Thunder run — either scoring or assisting on every basket — and Oklahoma City was back up by 14 points. The visitors took a 58-48 advantage into halftime.
The Raptors are in Detroit on Friday then host Indiana on Sunday and Chicago on Tuesday.