Raptors 82, Thunder 92 | Box Score
The Las Vegas Summer League Toronto Raptors are not off to the best of starts. For the third time in four days, the Raptors got behind early and fought hard to dig out of a hole that was simply much too big, the encouraging signs of progress for some individuals still not connecting for team-level success. It is what it is, really, with Summer League results not meaning the world but winning always a priority and a preferred outcome and, for the first time in years in Vegas, the Raptors not doing it with aplomb.
There was a red herring early on, as the Raptors actually turned in a good opening salvo. OG Anunoby drilled a corner three, Shevon Thompson picked up an on-ball steal and clear path foul, Malachi Richardson finished a drive through hard contact, and a starting lineup with four new pieces had some solid bounce out of the gate. Rawle Alkins made good on his chance to start with great energy, too.
“We just thought we wanted a really bit more of a combination of our wings, more of our standstill shooters and a little bit more of our drivers in combination, rather than playing OG, Malcolm, Malachi and Alfonzo all together,” Nick Nurse said. “They’re kind of all similar and we wanted to play at least two smaller, or guys who can get into the paint a little bit more and (Alkins) really made a big difference for us.”
That dissipated fairly quickly as some simple misplays set in. Thompson couldn’t connect on a nice dump-off from Alkins, nobody could keep P.J. Dozier in check, and the Thunder pulled off a four-point play when they grabbed an offensive rebound on a Dakari Johnson missed and-one conversion. The Toronto offense hit the skids as the bench began filtering in, and some bad luck – Alfonzo McKinnie tipping a pass in the lane right into a Deonte Burton mid-range jumper, Augusto Lima getting blocked and having it bounce off of him out of bounds – struck. Even when Anunoby hit another three to cap a strong quarter, Kevin Hervey responded in kind, helping the Thunder take a 31-21 lead at the end of one. The Raptors shot well enough from outside to keep pace, they just happened to shoot worse inside the arc (4-of-11) and let the Thunder get too many second chances.
Nurse tried Jordan Loyd out at the point guard position in the second, and Loyd rewarded the faith with a pretty solid quarter undercut by poor shot-making around him. There was also some Summer League weirdness, with the Thunder picking up two quick defensive three-second calls and a double foul being called right before Loyd was hammered at the rim with no whistle. Chris Boucher got an opportunity, too, and offered a mixed bag, showing some interesting defensive agility and missing a few help rotations. Hervey and Dozier both stayed hot and Rashawn Thomas joined them, and soon the Thunder were out ahead by 18.
If there was a light in this game, it was the response late in this quarter, as the Raptors ratcheted up the defensive intensity and quickly started chipping out of the enormous hole. Alkins had a great block on a Terrance Ferguson drive, Codi Miller-McIntyre continued his strong showing with a take for a foul and then a steal and coast-to-coast layup, and Richardson took a second chance to the paint for free throws. Another Anunoby triple cut the lead to 10, and when the Thunder counter-punched, the Raptors went haywire in the closing seconds – Miller-McIntyre scored late, Alkins stole in the inbound and fed Anunoby for a dunk, and then the Raptors stole the inbound again and nearly scored again, their halftime deficit sitting at 11 instead.
“I think we know what intensity we need to have but it’s about being able to do it over the course of the game instead of spurts,” Miller-McIntyre said. “I think we did it the last two games, we play a certain way and you’ll see a certain type of intensity out of us and we’ll get within 10 points and then it’ll fade out. It’s about we know what to do but trying to do it over the course of the game.”
The defensive focus carried over to the third, as neither team scored for several possessions. The physicality led to a testy moment where the teams had to be separated under the Thunder basket, as Anunoby shoved Johnson after a block for a jump ball, leading to words being traded and matching technicals.
“Yeah, I mean, it was fun. It’s always fun playing a physical game,” Anunoby said.” We just didn’t play as well as we wanted to.”
Both took a turn trying to hurt the other on the scoreboard, Johnson getting to the free-throw line and helping pick up eight fouls on Thompson (!) and Anunoby hitting his fourth triple of the game. Toronto had some nice individual efforts throughout the quarter – this was the most engaged I’ve seen Richardson as a defender, and Giddy Potts got to show his range and shot-blocking (!) ability – but they couldn’t make any headway with the score due to some plain unsightly shot-creation and shot-making.
The Thunder lead had extended out to 20 entering the fourth, leaving the Raptors in a similar situation to their first two games. That is, a deflating one. Hervey was getting wide open for threes, Burton threw down a monster dunk, and Toronto looked to be more or less out of it. They play the final minutes with good reason, though, and a fun lineup with Loyd alongside Miller-McIntyre in the backcourt got the Raptors out on a 13-3 run to open the fourth, quickly cutting the lead to a more manageable 10 points with six minutes to play.
That rough 10-point marker continued to be a barrier, even when Anunoby tried to block a shot right through that barrier and into press row along the baseline. Frustration seemed to set in from there, as one Raptor let out an audible curse after a tough Ferguson bucket, Anunoby lost the handle on an offensive rebound, and fatigue led to some sloppy turnovers. Like that, the Toronto push subsided and Oklahoma City was back ahead comfortably. The closing minutes weren’t without encouraging signs, as Boucher made a nice contest at the rim and stroked an above-the-break three and Alkins had a terrific second-jump effort to tip in his own miss, those moments just didn’t do anything but get the final score down to 92-82.
Spirits still seemed high enough outside of the Miller injury to where the team thinks they’re making progress and moving in the right direction. They’ll have to do so from a hole on the wrong side of the playoff bracket from here, and they’ve got at least two more games to get a win under their belts and break through as a collective.
- Yes, we’re copping my Raptors 905/Team Canada recap format here with half-gamer, half-notes. I figure it lends itself better to games like these where people might not be as concerned about the game-flow as the actual player performances.
- As always, yes, all Summer League caveats apply. The context of the tournament needs to be recognized. That doesn’t mean information can’t be pulled from it – positive signs are allowed to breed optimism, and negatives can help inform the rest of a player’s offseason. Take it for what it is, and enjoy.
- RAPTORS NOTES: OG Anunoby had his best all-around game of the tournament, scoring 19 points, hitting four threes, blocking a pair of shots, and grabbing six rebounds…Malachi Richardson continues to impress far more than he did with Raptors 905, scoring 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting here…Giddy Potts lit it up in his 15 minutes, hitting four threes for 15 points…Rawle Alkins shot poorly but was the only Raptors starter with a positive plus-minus…Codi Miller-McIntyre has been the best non-roster surprise of the week. He finished with 8-4-8 and five steals.
- Shevon Thompson picked up eight fouls in 18 minutes and finished a team-worst minus-13. He at least grabbed a team-high seven rebounds…Alfonzo McKinnie went 0-for-5 in nine scoreless minutes, though he’s hobbled a bit right now…Jordan Loyd missed all five attempts as well but played a pretty solid game otherwise.
- INJURIES: Fuquan Edwin missed a third consecutive game with a left knee injury…Alfonzo McKinnie is playing through a sprained ankle…Malcolm Miller left the game late in the third quarter with a dislocated shoulder.
- IN ATTENDANCE: Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell were here for this one to support the guys, as well as the bulk of the front office and Larry Tanenbaum.
- THUNDER NOTES: C
- UP NEXT: The Raptors now await the final round robin standings to come down to see where and who they play on Wednesday on the 0-3 chunk of the bracket. They’ll practice tomorrow.