I mentioned in the preview the last time the Raptors the last time Raptors won two in a row was on December 3rd. The team they defeated was the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Kevin Durant was a spectator that night and Thunder were coming into this one on a roll. Winners of six in a row. Not to mention this game was in Oklahoma City and the Raptors were in the midst of a team record 14 game road losing streak. Every single sign pointed to an easy win for the Thunder. But just like in March Madness upsets can happen and the Raptors would play like that plucky underdog in this one.
Raptors won the tip and Bargnani missed on a drive to the hoop. Kevin Durant nails a three, after a Calderon drive to the bucket Sefolosha would cut to the hoop and score and it was 5-2 Thunder. James Johnson would drive and score and make the and one free throw and it was tied at 5. Westbrook with a nice dime gave OKC the lead, after couple sloppy possession by both teams Perkins would get a slam to make it 9-5. Demar DeRozan and Kevin Durant exchanged hoops. Westbrook left Jose Calderon standing there. Then James Johnson made a three and was talking smack? Really James Johnson...not a smart idea. Not long after that Perkins would get in Amir Johnson's face and he would respond with a push and get teched up for it. Another Westbrook blow by and to this point this game was following the script you would have expected with OKC up 18-10.
Few empty trips for the Thunder and a wide open 3 from Bargnani combined with an earlier Raptor free throw would make it 18-14 Thunder. Speaking of the line Andrea Bargnani got himself there and made a pair it was a two point game. Reggie Evans checked in and got in the grill of Perkins and was able to draw a response and drew a technical on him. Calderon would make that and a jumper and Raptors led 19-18 currently enjoying a 9-0 run. Corner three would not fall for Westbrook and Raps would get out on break and make it an 11-0 run with Reggie of all people finishing on the break. Why Westbrook was not content going pick and roll and blowing past Calderon is a mystery to me. After a time out OKC would finally break free and get a couple baskets to re-take the lead 22-21. James Johnson on drive hits Reggie Evans who was being a factor scoring? No really he was. Westbrook took my advice but driving one against 3 was not what I had in mind. James Harden a frustration dunk after he was fouled on the floor. He would take an ill advised three and speaking of three on the other end Reggie Evans had his third basket since checking in. Evans almost had a 4th on a tap back at the end of the quarter but he would settle for 6 points and the Raptors happy to have 25-22 lead after 1.
Raptors started the 2nd quarter in a zone and James Harden made them pay with a 3 pointer and we were tied at 25. Barbosa the drive and the drop off for the offensive force that was Reggie Evans and he got fouled and heads to the line for 2. Not a good free throw shooter normally but makes both and Raptors were back up by 2. Thunder would hit another 3 and re-take the lead 28-27. Lead was flip flopping back and forth with the Thunder hanging on to the lead 30-29. Barbosa would get called for a charge but Bayless after a little trouble on the break would find Barbosa for the easy 2. Sonny Weems would add on two more to the cause and the Thunder had to be scratching their heads down 33-30 with a time out on the floor. Scott Brooks was coach of year for a reason as his team responded out of the time out again with two straight scores and were back on top 34-33. After the Raptors took the lead back another James Harden three would give the Thunder back their one point edge at 38-37 midway through the 2nd. James Johnson found a lane on the baseline and exploded down it for the slam. Thunder would answer that hoop and got a steal but James Johnson active hands would break up an easy score on the break.
Amir Johnson would draw a foul and get to the line and split a pair leaving this at even at 40. After a score on the next possession Thunder would make a sloppy pass and pay for it with a DeRozan dunk off the break and we were even again at 42 with a time out on the floor. Some Amir Johnson hustle gave the Raptors a couple extra chances to score that they failed to take advantage of. But the Raptors would gather a loose ball on the other end and a rare Bargnani hoop in the paint and the Raptors had a lead that Amir Johnson would expand on with his own bucket in the paint. After a couple OKC free throws a Barbosa drive and score gave the Raptors a pretty unexpected 48-44 lead at the half.
Thunder after a slow start for both teams a Westbrook drive to hoop not once but twice and this game was tied. He seems like he could do this almost anytime he wants why he not doing it more remains a mystery. Andrea Bargnani would get to the line and only manage getting 1 of 2 but nosed the Raptors back in front 49-48. Bargnani would miss a three but DeRozan got the board and put it home. Raps got on a roll and a DeRozan highlight worth dunk was enough to cause Brooks to call another timeout. Raptors after the Thunder had tied it went on a 8-0 run to lead 56-48. Perkins travelled as he put it in the basket but it would not count. Bargnani would extend the run on mid-range jumper. No travel this time and Perkins would finally end the Raptors 10-0 run with a nice lay in using the hoop to shield off the defenders. After Thunder got a couple hoops James Johnson who was doing a solid job guarding Kevin Durant got his offence on with a drive and score and Raptors were back up 8 with score 60-52.
Thunder would creep closer and the Raptors answer again to get the lead back to 64-56. Raptors were not going away but neither were these OKC fans who are some of the best in the NBA. Bargnani hit a shot and then got to the line made both and it was 68-58 Raptors with 3 to play in the 3rd. Bargnani had 10 in the quarter and DeRozan looking to match him with 10 of his own got called on the travel. But the Raptors were not stumbling at all in fact the got a Barbosa three to get lead to the largest point of the night to this point at 12. Kevin Durant was having a very quiet night thanks to James Johnson mostly but did manage to answer with a 3 of his own. Raptors were passing the ball well and Reggie Evans would benefit with a trip to the line and again made both. Raptors had a 10 point lead after 3. Raptors 76 Thunder 66 and the only question was could the Raps keep this up for 48 minutes.
A questionable foul call would go the way of James Harden and he made 3 at the line and Thunder were down a touchdown. Barbosa did not like the call but don't get made get even and he would nailing a three to get the Raptor lead back to 10. Thunder would get back to back hoops and crowd was getting into it. A steal and James Harden drew the foul heading to the line again. Thunder were having a bad night but Harden was keeping them in it. Made both and the Raptors lead the maxed out at 12 was down to 4. Another Raptor collapse coming our way. It was looking that way. Thunder had the crowd hyped and were trialling 81-77 with lots of time left. Demar DeRozan stepped up with a one handed runner and got Raptors back up a half dozen. It has hang on time for the Raptors. Bargnani gets a three after the Thunder split two at the line and Raptors led 86-78. But the Thunder were getting a lot of help from their 6th man and using it. Back to a 4 point game again but it would be DeRozan again stepping up to stop the Thunder burst and it was 88-82. Thunder got it back to 4 again and DeRozan slipped and had to call a time out as he was on the floor with no where to go.
Kevin Durant had been very quiet and well of his season totals but got to the line and made this a 2 point game the closet the Thunder had been in awhile. a loose ball and a tie up with exactly 5 minutes to go. Amir and Perkins would jump it up and Perkins would with the tap for OKC. K.D would hit a long two and tie this game up. This was looking like a case of close but no cigar for the Raptors. Durant on a jumper tried to give OKC the lead and could not hit. Raptors were struggling to get points as OKC had picked up their defence at the urging of their fans. Perkins got to the line and gave the Thunder the lead and you wondered if it would be for good. But he only made 1 of 2 and it was 89-88. James Johnson once again with a key basket on the drive and Raptors took the lead back. But the Thunder would answer and The Raptors failed to do so.
OKC called a time out with the ball up 91-90 looking to close this out and get a win. Thunder would turnover the ball out of the time out and Raptors would get a chance to re-take the lead that they had held most of the night. They could not and with 1:45 left the Thunder had all the momentum and it sure seemed like they could escape this one with a win. Durant got to the line again to chants of MVP he would make 2 at the line and Thunder led 93-90. The point was for most of this night Durant was not looking like an MVP and that is a big reason why Raptors were still in this. Barbosa tried for the tie and missed. K.D looked to close this out with a step back jumper but it didn't fall. Perkins would get fouled and get to line with 41.7 to play. He missed both and OKC was leaving the door open. DeRozan rebounded the 2nd miss and Raptors would call a time out. Barbosa has a easy look out of time out at 3 and nailed it. Raptors got a steal and had the ball tied at 93 with 21 seconds left. Barbosa would get the ball again and this time was the play maker getting a pass to Amir Johnson in the paint and a basket leaving OKC a little time left (1.4 seconds) to try to tie or win it. Thunder got the ball to K.D and a long 2 would not fall as it was an air ball. A stunning and fitting end to this game. 95-93 the Raptors shock the Thunder.
It was not a good day on the floor for Canada in March Madness. Texas on a questionable 5 second call lost to Arizona. Tristan Thompson and Cory Joesph's NCAA dreams were done for this season. Syracuse and their Canadian Joesph also fell. But the Raptors snapped a team record 14 game road losing streak in one of the tougher places to win in the NBA. It was unexpected and unreal. Full marks to James Johnson for taking up the challenge of locking down one of the best players in the game in Kevin Durant. Raptors had a tom of guys bringing it and they responded to the challenge and when adversity came in the 4th quarter they answered the challenge. Many times this season they have not. Full marks to the Raptors for a very unexpected win.