The Raptors gave the Thunder a good contest for about 30 minutes, but when OKC flipped the switch in the second half, Toronto’s effort was nowhere near up to the task.
Here are some thoughts on the game…
- It’s not that the Raptors came out with a piss poor effort like they did at times through the first 22 games of the season, but the fight they showed in their three week run wasn’t there either. They slumped their shoulders and looked pretty defeated as soon as the Thunder made their move in the third quarter, and that was disappointing regardless of the fact that no one expected them to win this game.
- There was plenty of blame to go around today, but a lot will fall on the shoulders of DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis, who each had one of their more forgettable games of the season. For DeRozan, who always seems to struggle against Thabo Sefolosha and the Thunder, it was the second straight game in which he failed to show up. Between 33 minutes against the Kings on Friday and 33 minutes against the Thunder on Sunday, DeMar combined for 25 points on a paltry 7-of-27 shooting to go with seven total rebounds and three assists. Hopefully this is just a case of a simple mid-season slump for DeRozan, and not a sign that he’s going to have a hard time adjusting to teams’ defensive adjustments to him.
- Dwane Casey’s rotations in this game left something to be desired, especially with respect to how he handled the point guard situation. I was fine with Jose Calderon earning the starting spot, but this team has two quality point men for a reason, and if the starter isn’t up to the task, Casey shouldn’t hesitate to use a quick hook. Today, it wad pretty obvious early on that Calderon wasn’t the best option defensively against a Russell Westbrook team and he wasn’t doing much offensively either, but instead of substituting Lowry for Jose early, Calderon actually played the entire first quarter. It was puzzling/frustrating, to say the least.
- Amir Johnson was productive in his first start of the season, posting an impressive line of 19 points (on 8/11 shooting), nine rebounds and three blocks while only committing one personal foul in roughly 38 minutes (though his lone foul was a needless one on a fading away Ibaka) to rebound from his disastrous, scoreless six-foul performance against DeMarcus Cousins on Friday. With Aaron Gray struggling, I wonder if Casey will consider moving Amir into the starting five. The dilemma, of course, is that it leaves Gray and Quincy Acy as your only big options off of the bench right now.
- The other big performer on the day for Toronto was Alan Anderson, who exploded for a career-high 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including a phenomenal second quarter stretch of three-pointers that single-handedly gave the Raptors a five-point lead and brought the Air Canada Centre crowd to its feet in the loudest ovation of the game. Unfortunately, when your best players are Amir Johnson and Alan Anderson, you’re not going to beat many teams in the NBA, let alone truly elite championship contenders like the Thunder.
- Terrence Ross left the game in the third quarter and did not return after suffering a sprained left ankle. There’s been no indication as to severity or a timetable yet, so it could just be the type of minor sprain that sees him return on Wednesday, but if Ross has to miss time, it will be a big downer for Raptors fans who have already been robbed of one favourite rookie due to injury recently.
Raptors Player Of the Game: Alan Anderson – 27 Pts, 10/14 FG, 4/8 3PT, 3/3 FT, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO in 33:13
Thunder Player Of the Game: Kevin Durant – 22 Pts, 6/11 FG, 2/5 3PT, 8/9 FT, 7 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 1 TO in 38:27
With winnable home games against the struggling 76ers, hapless Bobcats and inconsistent Bucks coming up this week, the Raptors will have a chance to make up for the last couple of games, but if they’re slowly regressing back into the team that dug themselves a mammoth hole to start the season, none of these games should be seen as “gimmes.”
It could be a successful week, but I caution fans not to assume it will be.
We should be back with the first 2013 edition of RaptorBlog Radio for your listening pleasure tomorrow. Until then…