Another rough second half almost sunk the Raptors in OKC
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Final Score, Toronto Raptors 130 - Oklahoma City Thunder 121
Oklahoma City, OK - Marc Gasol made his return from injury after being out almost a month and was thrust right into the starting lineup. Oklahoma City came in with a 12-3 record in their last month of play, including a narrow one point win over Toronto on Dec. 29th. Another close one as the Raptors almost gave it away before winning 130-121 over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Raptors offence shot 61 percent from the floor.
Head Coach Nick Nurse decided to go big starting Gasol with Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Kyle Lowry. After letting up the first four points the Raptors went on a 9-0 run, that included two steals from Anunoby and two buckets from Lowry.
Gasol looked rusty making a couple of mistakes early; getting his pocket picked by Chris Paul, and then getting called for a rare lane violation.
It was Anunoby’s job to guard the Canadian Superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He was playing a very close ball denying style and got rewarded with yet another steal, bringing his total to three just five minutes into the game.
We found out yesterday that Lowry’s jersey will be retired at Villanova next month and the Raptors all star point guard was feeling it. He was making great decisions when to shoot and pass. Halfway through the quarter he already had eight points and two assists.
Raptors went on another run, this time 12-4 courtesy of Norman Powell who had back-to-back scores off the bench. An offensive explosion and a 25-16 Raptors lead with 4:49 remaining in the first.
Ibaka was on fire.
In the place he spent his first eight seasons Ibaka started a perfect 6 for 6 from the field for 13 points. The Raptors ended the quarter with yet another run, 8-0 this time as they held a 38-25 lead after 12 minutes. Toronto shot an outstanding 69 percent and had 13 assists.
In the second, it was a back-and-forth start. Gasol was getting more involved, shooting four of five for nine points. 6:58 left in the half the Raptors led the Thunder 52-37.
Would you believe another run?
This one was 14-0 as the Raptors were dominating the Thunder. Toronto pushed their lead to 30 points.
But it wouldn't last long...
Oklahoma City closed the half on a 12-0 run with four deep balls. Raptors still held a 73-55 lead at the break. Five Raptors scored in double figures in the first 24 minutes; Ibaka still with 13, Siakam with 13, Lowry, Anunoby and Powell all with 10.
In the third it took until 9:18 for the first made basket. It was Gasol from deep adding himself into the double figures club with his 12 points.
Nurse lost yet another coach's challenge. Chris Paul looked to have stuck his leg out on a three drawing the foul, but after review the call was not changed.
Gilgeous-Alexander started to find his groove. He went all the way to the rim with a sweet layup. SGA was up to a game high 16 points halfway through the third quarter. The Thunder were cutting into the Raptors lead. With 5:27 left, Raps up 83-69.
Lowry on the bench got a technical foul. He was putting on his practice sweater as Paul made an easy lay in. Things were getting dangerously close as the lead was down to just 12.
Ibaka got called for back-to-back offensive fouls. Paul went to line to seal a 15-4 Thunder run and cut the lead to 10 with three minutes left in the third.
Turnovers were an issue that let Oklahoma City back into the contest. Raptors had seven in the quarter and the Thunder took advantage winning the quarter by four points. With 12 minutes left the Raptors were up 97-83.
The fourth started with two Anunoby dunks both assisted by Terrence Davis. That put the Thunder down 18.
Powell was putting together another fantastic game. He was already up to 21 points on an outstanding 8 for 10 shooting with six minutes left in the game.
A quick Nurse timeout with 5:43 left. Dennis Schroder made his fifth shot from deep cutting the Raps lead to 15. He finished with a game high 25 points.
The timeout did not help at all. A 14-0 run by the Thunder made it just a seven point game. Siakam made a basket but Danilo Gallinari made a three cutting it to six. Siakam once again answered as he made a nice pass to Anunoby putting it to an eight point game.
With two minutes remaining it was 124-121 Raptors. Lowry came through with a physical drive to the rim for two points. A stop and then Lowry once again with a beautiful turnaround jumper.
Raptors scare both their coach and their fans before pulling away for a 130-121 victory over the Thunder. Powell led the Raptors with 23 points well Siakam and Anunoby both had 21. Toronto shot 15 of 27 from the three point line in the win.
Next up, Friday back in Toronto against the Washington Wizards who the Raptors beat by just four in December.