Streaking Thunder Rout Raptors For 4th Straight Win

Randy Renner, Senior Writer

It wasn’t quite St. Patrick’s Day when he did it but Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook managed some “luck of the Irish” anyway on one of his 16 assists during the Thunder’s 123-102 win over the Toronto Raptors.

It happened in the 2nd quarter, a cross-court, bounce-pass to Victor Oladipo that went through the churning legs of Raptors guard Cory Joseph on the way to Oladipo.

“I didn’t even know if he was passing it to me or Taj,” Oladipo told reporters. “I honestly just looked down. I saw him throw it. I didn’t see how he threw it. I looked down and the ball was in my hands. I just laid it up. It was crazy.”

“It got through a little traffic,” Westbrook cracked after the game. Asked whether he realized the ball had gone through Joseph’s legs he said, “No I didn’t. I didn’t see it till I saw the clip.”

It was the fourth straight game Westbrook has recorded at least 13 assists. He also had 24 points and 10 rebounds giving him his fourth straight triple-double and 34th on the season.

Westbrook led a group of six other Thunder players who scored in double figures. Oladipo had his fourth straight game scoring at least 20 points, finishing with 23 on 9-for-15 shooting (3-for-3 on threes). Enes Kanter added 14, Andre Roberson had 13 on 6-for-8 shooting and Taj Gibson, Steven Adams and Alex Abrines each had 10.

During this four-game winning streak Oladipo is hitting 70.6 percent of his 3-point attempts and averaging 21.5 points a game. Westbrook is averaging 15.5 assists over the same span.

As a team the Thunder are averaging 114.8 points a game during the streak on 50.0 percent shooting overall and 42.2 percent on threes.

OKC’s offense hummed all night against the Raptors, helped along by 56.0 percent shooting on threes (14-for-25) and 53.4 percent overall.

“We’re just moving the ball, sharing the ball and following our leader, Russell Westbrook,” Roberson told Fox Sports Oklahoma. “He’s putting us in great positions to be successful and that’s how we’ve gotta play going into the playoffs.”

The Thunder dominated two important hustle stats, outscoring the Raptors 17-1 in second chance points and 14-4 in transition.

Through three quarters OKC had also held Toronto to just 41.7 percent shooting and 70 points.

“We defended our butts off today,” Oladipo said. “Collectively as a group and that’s the reason why we were successful.”

The Thunder broke things open in the 3rd quarter when they went on a 23-8 run and ended the quarter outscoring the Raps 39-22 and leading 97-70.

“We were able to get some consecutive stops and get out in transition and then we got going and were able to increase the lead to close the third,” head coach Billy Donovan pointed out. “We played with a high level of intensity from start to finish.”

The Thunder more than doubled up Toronto in the assist category 33-15 and dominated the glass 47-32.

It all adds up to an impressive win over a good team on the road. OKC has now won four straight after dropping four in a row.

It would seem this team is finally gelling after looking a bit ragged and confused at times while getting new players settled in after the trade deadline and working through injuries to Oladipo and Kanter.

It’s back home now for the Thunder where they’ll play three games that appear winnable against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday afternoon, then the Golden State Warriors (who are just 5-5 over the last 10 games) will be at The Peake on Monday night and the homestand ends against the 24-43 Philadelphia 76ers.

After the Clippers lost to Denver last night OKC is now just a half game behind LA for fifth place in the Western Conference and three-and-a-half behind Utah for fourth.

Remember Saturday’s game against the Kings is an early start, 2pm, at The Peake.


Randy RennerComment