The explosive attack of the birds of prey creates an adequate cushion to hold back the thunder

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With seven different players scoring double digits and firing a fiery 61.2 percent off the floor, the Toronto Raptors managed to resist to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 130-121 in a shootout at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday evening.

This was an evening that saw Marc Gasol return to the Raptors after losing his last 12 games with a hamstring injury and starting a huge-sized lineup with Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Kyle Lowry.

With Gasol back, the only key Raptor has left on the sidelines is Fred VanVleet, an encouraging sign for a Toronto team that has been decimated by injuries over the season.

Here are some takeaways from a wild and fun win for the Raptors in OKC.

Offensive explosion

As mentioned earlier, the Raptors were offensive spectacular.

Their 61.2 percent mark on the field has only been matched or exceeded 10 times in the history of the franchise and ranks as the sixth best Raptors shooting result ever. Furthermore, it was only the 18th time they ever scored 130 points or more in a game, and only the eleventh time in a relationship without overtime.

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With these gaudy numbers came impressive individual performances by the Raptors. Seven different players scored double digits. Here is a quick look at what each of them has done:

Norman Powell: Powell had 23 points in 9 out of 11 shots and was 3 out of 4 by three points. He has been the most consistent top scorer for Toronto all night and seems to have not missed a beat since his return from injury.

Pascal Siakam: Siakam finished 21 points on throws 9 to 15. Unlike the rust he showed on Sunday from the second quarter onwards, Siakam seemed to have found his legs and was much more comfortable on Wednesday.

OG Anunoby: Anunoby also had 21 points, but perhaps the most impressive were the five assists and five rebounds he racked up on Wednesday. This was a nice follow-up attempt after a tough Sunday outing against the San Antonio Spurs.

Kyle Lowry: Lowry had 17 points and eight assists, and seemed to have frozen the game when he hit a decisive one, leading the lay-up right in the middle of the lane with 2:20 left to play and then he hit a jumper with 1:25 left to give Toronto a seven-pointed cushion. This happened after the Raptors appeared to be skipping what was a 30 point lead in the fourth.

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Serge Ibaka: Ibaka finished with 15 points in 7-for-11, but her best came in the first frame when she had 13 points in perfect 6-for-6.

Marc Gasol: Gasol was excellent in his first game due to an injury, scoring 15 points while distributing five points. Free time seems to have done wonders for Gasol as he seemed busy, energetic and aggressive with his shot – something that will surely be music to the ears of Raptors fans.

Terence Davis: Davis scored 12 points and seven rebounds on Wednesday. His biggest moment in the game came in the third quarter when he hit a three pointer towards the end of the third quarter to help the Raptors maintain command while Thunder threatened.

A story of two halves

The Raptors led the game by as much as 30 points on Wednesday, but almost saw the lead evaporate in the fourth quarter.

Toronto started the game very hard, scoring 38 points in the first quarter with almost 70% shooting before finishing the first half with a 73-55 lead.

In the third quarter, the Raptors broke the ball seven times, allowing OKC to return to the game and enter the quarter only 14.

Then, in the final period, it was the defense of the Raptors that let them down when they allowed the Thunder to put aside a 38 point frame and saw that the 30 point gap was reduced to a minimum of three points with 2:09 left to play.

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It was great entertainment with the game that turned from laughter into a nuisance along the way, but this should still be worrying for Toronto as it is becoming a trend for the team.

If OKC had managed to complete the return, this would have been the third time in four games where the Raptors would have had a fourth quarter lead.

The other two games in question are those against last week’s Portland Trail Blazers and Sunday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. In each of these meetings, the main point of contention for the Raptors was thought to be their poor offense in the fourth quarter. However, this growing problem of the poor playability of the final frame may have more to do with defending the Raptors.

The offense went well on Wednesday, but the Raptors allowed the OKC to score 33 points in the last quarter, something very similar to the 32 and 36 points, respectively, in the quarter that the Blazers and Spurs had recently against the Raptors .

EMS stays warm

It wasn’t the 20-20-10 triple double masterpiece of his previous game, nor was it a 32-point performance as he had done in Toronto a few days before the calendar turned to 2020, but Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still had one strong night against the Raptors on Wednesday.

Hamilton, England, ended their evening with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists, shooting 6-for-10 from the field and 2-for-2 from the depths.

His free throws with 2:09 left in the game brought the Thunder to three points and was instrumental in bringing the Thunder back to a position that could eventually make a historic return, dropping four flakes only in the fourth quarter.

Despite the strong exit, this seemed like a relatively ordinary line for Gilgeous-Alexander. Perhaps, the best compliment we can now give to the rising star as he continues his second year election campaign.


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