Epic meltdowns aside, that was a heck of a game. Toronto played fantastic, until they didn’t. But the Thunder are a fantastic team, and they were always going to make a run. When Russell Westbrook goes 5-for-10 from deep and drops a clean 42-11-6, the Thunder are never really out of the game. Toronto played a generally clean game, and an especially clean overtime. Great win.
Josh Lewenberg was in OKC for this one, and he reported plenty of words from Ibaka before the game. Speaking about his emotions on the court, the fight with Marquese Chriss, and other such topics, there were lots of important words.
- Most importantly: “Just don’t fight.”
- “I’ve been so good this year. I don’t know if you guys saw that? And I try so hard. But, ahhh! He got me. (Chriss) got me on that one… I want to keep playing with my fire. Thats who I am.”
- He expressed some joy that he didn’t connect with his punch and earn a suspension 3-5 times longer. We’re all pretty joyful for that one. He’s back, and he had a fun one. Two monster blocks, and he forms such a potent 1-2 punch with Marc Gasol at the center spot. We’re all happy to have Ibaka back.
- The Raptors went with a Lin-Norm backcourt with two minutes left in the first quarter. It had to happen with Lowry out, but then, against all odds, it worked! Siakam worked as the initiator, which is far too rare when he’s the lone starter. But he was great. Surprise, surprise. Also, Lin hit a 3. So it worked well. (That lineup finished with the second-best plus-minus on the night, at +6.) Despite the Thunder running Paul George against the majority bench group, the Raptors were still dominant.
- The same lineup spent some time together to end the third quarter. VanVleet was in for a minute, and Siakam was the only plus initiator for the other minute. The results were much worse, as the Thunder reeled off a 11-6 run. Ibaka at least had a monster rejection, but the offence was too stilted to create much in the half-court.
- At the top of the second and fourth quarters, the Raptors went with Lin-Norm, but with Leonard bolstering those lineups. They were a slight plus in the second and slight minus in the fourth. In general, Leonard hasn’t had great success as the only starter in the game, but Toronto will happily take breaking even.
- The starters with VanVleet were fantastic. The starting lineup of VanVleet-Green-Leonard-Siakam-Gasol scored 66 points, which is almost exactly half of Toronto’s total. Really impressive stuff. Siakam was fantastic, and VanVleet blends in so brilliantly. Leonard almost took a backseat to Siakam when they were together, and Siakam exposed an obvious mismatch in Paul George. They finished a +11 in 26 minutes.
- Ibaka gave Anunoby the business at the start of the second quarter. Anunoby missed a rotation, which gave the Thunder an easy bucket (and he fouled to boot.) Ibaka let him know.
- Marc Gasol missed a wide-open layup, and then the next possession he found himself with another. He passed it out. A coward, sure, but Siakam made the corner triple, so give Gasol a pass.
- Anunoby agaaain was inches away from a monstrous dunk over multiple defenders. One day. One day.
- Siakam finished with 33-13-6-2-1. This could have been his best game of the season. He was fantastic in the half-court, in transition, and in pretty well every other situation imaginable. His finishes were fantastic, and he dominated despite only shooting 1-for-4 from deep.