By Suave Francisco
Defense continues to win games for Oklahoma City as they knock off the two-seeded Toronto Raptors of the NBA's Eastern Conference 119-100 Monday night in Toronto. Four solid quarters by this team resulted in a dominating game pretty much wire to wire, holding Toronto's stars to a poor shooting night and a poor defensive outing.
This team improved to (16-0) with Russell Westbrook's 16th triple-double of the season and seventh of the month. His all-around play gets other players involved which means one thing, offensive productivity and with Andre Roberson, and Steven Adams setting the trend for this team defensively, that explains this eight-game winning streak by the Thunder.
Although Billy Donovan gave Kyle Singler 12 minutes in today's game, this team really plays better defensively and offensively when he plays less than 10 minutes per game. Every time he entered the game, Toronto got an offensive rhythm. The Thunder got off to a quick start, up 20-10, until Singler checked in the game at the 4:14 mark of the first quarter when Toronto ran through our defense with a 21-10 run to the 9-minute mark of the second quarter when he checked back out of the game. About 2 minutes after that, OKC went on a 9-0 run to go up 39-31. For the following 9 minutes before halftime, they outscored the Raptors 31-15 with the defensive starters (Adams and Roberson) in the game. This is a clear sign of success on the defensive end for this team. For the majority of the first half, Roberson held Raptor guard, DeMar DeRozan to 15 points on 6-16 shooting. The remainder of the game got better for Andre and worse for DeMar, who scored 4 more points that total 19 points off 22 shots, shooting just 36 percent for the night.
Kevin Durant added a nice stat line as well, 33 points and 2 rebounds and assists shy of a triple-double as well.
With this win, the Thunder improve to 52-22 on the year, with the Detroit Pistons waiting for a chance to snap this streak tomorrow night in Detroit. With the performance of this team peaking at the right time of the season, don't be surprised if they finish this regular season without another loss, despite six of the eight remaining games being on the road.
Other positive facts of the game.
- In the past four games, Serge Ibaka goes back to his old ways, averaging 14 points, and 2 and a half blocks per game.
- Defense turns into offense; Oklahoma City had 27 fast-break points.
- More defense. Roberson held DeRozan to a -26 plus/minus for the game.