“No resistance, man,” a properly reserved Chris Bosh said afterward. “No resistance. It's no science. There's no structure. You just have to get the basketball.
“It was,” he added, “too easy.”
A Bosh prayer in a 106-105 win over the Atlanta Hawks and a 102-96 win over the New York Knicks is the only reason this team isn't looking at a 12-game losing streak this morning and, frankly, a plague of Chicago Bulls injuries is the only reason they aren't in ninth place.
You want Coach of the Year material for Scott Brooks? Here’s your Coach of the Year material. Brooks put his team through a rough and tumble, physical, intense practice Thursday after the loss in Charlotte. He was making and stressing the point to his young squad that under no circumstances can you take your foot off the pedal. I think his group got the message.
It all resulted in a 115-89 domination of the Raptors, a game that certainly made Thunder fans forget Wednesday. OKC just absolutely owned the game. The Thunder shot 26 free throws in the first half, making 23 (29-33 for the game). Kevin Durant scored 31 in three quarters and hit 17-18 from the stripe (15-15 in the first half). OKC took 21 more shots than Toronto. The Thunder controlled the glass 53-37 and grabbed 20 offensive rebounds. And an underrated, but key stat: OKC turned it over just nine times, including five through the first three quarters. Boomshakalaka.
“Turkoglu in particular is so abject and so low energy and has such awful body language that it is not a stretch to repeat the sneaking suspicion he is this franchise’s Vernon Wells.” That from Jeff Blair in the Globe and Mail.
Now I know the background on JP and Vernon, but who thought when Turkoglu wad brought in we were looking at this scenario? Now we are wondering if we can get him to play for the Marlies. Are any other Raptors fans feeling rather helpless right now? The guy we were sold as our saviour, the guy who was going to bring sucess and stability to the franchise can only truly be proud of one thing right now, he’s standup. He’s not blaming anyone but himself.
"The athleticism is probably as high as the average NBA team," Triano said of the Raptors' skill level. "As far as ability to shoot the basketball and take care of the basketball, I would say slightly above average. As far as individual one- on-one play, slightly below."
So, if they are equally talented and the injuries are healing, it comes down to who wants to win most. They have just 15 games to prove they have less heart than the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. You don't prove that by getting booed off the court at half time. You want intensity? Flip channels and watch the NCAA tournament.
"When they threw the ball up in the first half there were 15 defensive rebounds that we got and 15 offensive rebounds that the got," Jay Triano said. "Any time you play a team where they throw it up and half the time that they miss they get t back, you are going to be in a bit of a hole." Despite the final quarter being garbage time, the Thunder never let up for a second, pressuring on defense and hustling until the final buzzer sounded, their 42nd victory safely tucked away. "Not letting up," Durant said of the mindset of the team even after the game had been blown open. "Not getting satisfied. I think we did a good job of coming in and fighting for the whole 48 minutes. I was excited and happy to see that guys came in off the bench and everybody gave us energy."
As part of practice the last couple of days, what they’ve done is have halfcourt, five-on-five scrimmages aimed solely at rebounding and boxing out. Five guys to the offensive glass because no one has to worry about getting back and that means five guys have to turn around and box someone out.
The show of emotion portrayed the way Ibaka lifted the Thunder to its 115-89 trouncing of Toronto on Friday night at Air Canada Centre. Ibaka flew all over the court, using his inspired play in the first half to help spark the Thunder to a 71-44 halftime lead. Ibaka had just two points in 9 1/2 first-half minutes but contributed five rebounds and two blocked shots as well. But his only two points of the night, that putback dunk over Raptors forward Amir Johnson, was a beauty that brought the entire Thunder roster off the bench.
"Serge Ibaka got the dunk of the night two games in a row,” said Kevin Durant. "That was an unbelievable play. I think that’s what started the run we had. That was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen.”
And when Oklahoma City went up 71-44 at the half, the near-sellout crowd of 19,351 broke up. But the time the slaughter was finished and the boos rained down, the building was less than half filled.
“We don’t have any resistance,” Chris Bosh said after Toronto lost for the ninth time in its last 11 games. “We let guys walk down into the post, we let guys go by us with no resistance.
“There’s no resistance. It’s just too easy.”
And too troubling if you’re a Raptors fan because they have been down this road so many times before.
Last night the Raptors were simply humiliated – again – by an Oklahoma City team that all but toyed with its prey. Toronto allowed 39 points in the first quarter, 71 in the first half, and sank without a trace, 115-89. The crowd wasn't happy, but at least the team gave out complimentary boos with every ticket.
"They pretty much just kicked our ass today," said Chris Bosh, bristling with frustration but seemingly sapped of fury, after delivering a lonely 22 points and 10 rebounds. "There's really no nice way to put it … we didn't resist them. At all."
Before the game, coach Jay Triano said, "If we can defend and we can rebound like we did against Atlanta, we're going to be in a good basketball game."
Well, by halftime Oklahoma City had as many offensive rebounds as Toronto had defensive rebounds, and despite the Thunder's 41.5% shooting for the game, the Raptors often defended as if they were donating Thunder points to charity.
Toronto players and coaches slinked from the court at halftime under a hail of jeers from what had become an increasingly agitated home crowd. Not only were the Raptors behind by more than 25 points, they were also being out-rebounded, out-worked and out-played in every meaningful facet of the game.
Oklahoma City seemed to hit at the heart of Toronto’s greatest weaknesses. The Thunder held a 14-point lead after the first quarter thanks in no small part to a dozen points gained from 13 free-throw attempts.
Raptors guard Jose Calderon committed a trio of turnovers in the first quarter. Maligned forward Hedo Turkoglu missed his first two field goal attempts and was recalled to the bench for a long stretch of the second quarter.
Stats that stood out:
- Points in the Paint: 44-36, Thunder
- 2nd Chance Points: 27-6, Thunder
- Fast Break Points: 34-10, Thunder
- Durant tied a Raptors record (for an opponent) with 15 FT attempts and makes in the first half
- OKC outrebounded the Raptors 53-37
- Toronto drops back below .500 but they’re still locked into 8th place (for now)
What started out as relatively close first six minutes of the first quarter, ended with the Thunder leading 39-25 after one. By the time half-time rolled around the Raptors had given up a hideous 71 points. What's worse is that OKC didn't shoot a great percentage from the field (41.5%). They did most of their damage from the free-throw line (+15) and with second chance points (+17). The Raptors gave up 15 more rebounds at the half including 10 more offensive rebounds. Basically, the Raptors once again lost in those categories that are usually used to measure heart and hustle.
Toronto fans erupted in revolt at the end of the half, after Thunder centre Nenad Krstic capped a fast break with an easy dunk. It gave the visitors a 71-44 lead, led by 23 points from Durant, who had not exactly been allowed to slip into the city unnoticed before the game.
The 21-year-old entered the game ranked second in the league with an average of 29.7 points per game. He had nearly matched that average by halftime (23) in Toronto.
"He's turned into a bona fide superstar in this league," Triano told reporters earlier Friday afternoon. "He finds ways to score. He's active. You take one thing away from him, he goes to another."
It was a dreadful display for the Raptors, but remarkably not the worst of the season. Toronto conceded 75 in the first half of a game against Atlanta on Dec. 2.
There is no question that the disparity in foul shots was a major component of the Thunder’s 27 point half-time lead. But the Raptors inability to play through the adversity faced in the first half helped make that lead bigger than it needed to be and took away the Raptors opportunity to show their fans the toughness demonstrated only two nights before in the win against Atlanta.
In the second half, the foul calls did slowly begin to even out. It didn’t matter however because the game was out-of-hand. The evening-out of foul calls over the course of a game is common practice in the NBA and the Raptors players should have expected this.
But the Raptors were fragile and it showed and the fans at the ACC did not appreciate it.
Consecutive games against subpar opponents give Toronto a chance to gain some confidence. Two days after facing the league-worst Nets (7-61), the Raptors will remain on the road for a matchup with Minnesota, which has the West's worst record. Toronto is 3-0 against New Jersey this season, winning by an average of 16.4 points. The Raptors have a chance for their first four-game season series sweep of the Nets. But even New Jersey might be too difficult of an opponent to overcome if Toronto struggles as much as it did in a 115-89 loss to Oklahoma City on Friday night. The Raptors shot 43.8 percent and committed 19 turnovers, four by All-Star forward Chris Bosh.
The New Jersey Nets are getting reinforcements in their bid to avoid the worst record in NBA history.
Point guard Devin Harris and power forward Yi Jianlian practiced Friday and both said they will play for the Nets (7-61) on Saturday against the Toronto Raptors at the Izod Center.
Harris has missed the last two games with an upper respiratory infection. Yi has missed the last six with a sprained left ankle.
"Yi made it through practice. Devin made it through practice, so at this point I think we will have everyone," interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe said.
The Nets need to win three of their final 14 games to avoid tying or breaking the league's record for single-season futility, a 9-73 mark set by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1972-73.
On the season Bargnani is averaging 17.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and shooting 47% from the field – all career-highs. However, if he's going to show everyone he's earning the five-year, $50 million contract extension he signed last summer (that kicks in for the 2010-11 season) he needs to bring it on a more consistent basis.
Over the last 11 games Bargnani is averaging 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 0.82 blocks on 47% shooting. During that same time frame Bargnani is getting roughly one less shot per game (13.3 during the 11 games, 14.2 for the rest of the season) and making roughly half a shot less (6.2 during the 11 games, 6.7 for the rest of the season).
Whether it was playing games with a cast on his hand or knocking down big shots in big moments, Morris Peterson epitomized the toughness that the Flintstones brought to Michigan State.
The Flint Northwestern product proved to be a talented scorer and lockdown defender at Michigan State before getting taken in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors.
Peterson is one of the best and most well-liked players in Raptors history and is currently in his third season with the New Orleans Hornets.