The Raptors administered a fair thrashing to the Thunder in Oklahoma City in early November, so payback was the first order of business. But this would not be an easy proposition: Toronto is a better team now than they were then, and hey, it’s their house. It was going to take at least another 20-point, maybe a 30-point performance by Kevin Durant, and at least a double-double, maybe even a triple-double, from Russell Westbrook. Even harder, the Thunder would have to figure out some way to DeTer DeMar DeRozen. How did they do? KD, 34 points; Westbrook, 26-11-12; DeRozen, 8 of 22 for a team-high 19. The occasional lapse aside, OKC made it look sort of easy, dispatching the Dinos, 119-100.
In fact, this game was so unexpectedly uneventful that radio guy Matt Pinto spent a fair amount of time speculating who, if anyone, might be given the night off tomorrow against the Pistons. Of course, resting a starter or three — or four, as the Spurs did the other night — puts additional pressure on the reserves to perform, and the OKC bench has been somewhat inconsistent of late, rolling up only 25 points tonight, 15 of which came from Dion Waiters. (How hard can it be for both Waiters and Enes Kanter to get hot on the same night?) And the DeFense against DeRozen, largely the work of Andre Roberson, gave the too-lightly regarded Norman Thomas — how lightly? Not even his own Wikipedia page — the opportunity to crank out 18 points on 7-13.
Still, one should shed no tears for the Raptors, who still enjoy a five-game cushion over the third-place Atlanta Hawks. And perhaps one should think forward to Detroit tomorrow night; the Pistons lead the Bulls by two, the Wizards by two and a half, to hold, however tenuously, the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. And they’re 24-13 at the Palace, nothing to sneer at. Then again, the Raptors were 28-8 at the Air Canada Centre until tonight.