Sun, 02 Apr 2023

Thunder look to expand hot stretch, face Raptors

Field Level Media
16 Mar 2023, 08:19 GMT+10

The Oklahoma City Thunder will be out to extend their winning streak to four games Thursday night when they visit the Toronto Raptors.

The Thunder won for the sixth time in seven games Tuesday with a 121-107 home victory over the Brooklyn Nets, led by 35 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The Raptors opened a three-game homestand Tuesday with a 125-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets to end a three-game losing streak. Fred VanVleet had 36 points, including 14 in a 49-point first quarter that was a franchise best for any quarter.

The Thunder defeated the Raptors 132-113 at home on Nov. 11 in the first meeting of the season between the teams.

In defeating the Nets, the Thunder had a triple-double from Josh Giddey, who scored 15 points and added 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

"Everybody that touched the floor tonight really helped us in different parts of the game," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said.

Luguentz Dort scored 24 points for the Thunder and was 6-for-11 from 3-point range.

The Thunder outscored the Nets 38-20 in the third quarter with Dort scoring 15 points in 10 minutes.

"I was happy for Lu," Daigneault said. "He hasn't shot the ball well, he didn't get off to a great start shooting it, and that flurry in the third was huge."

The Thunder overcame a 16-point deficit.

"The underrated thing about a game like that is when you're down 16 ... (and) a team is playing with that juice, and the game's not quite going your way, not getting knocked out in that period is the key to winning a game like tonight," Daigneault said. "We didn't go down 25 and we easily could have. We just kind of hung in there long enough for the game to turn."

The Raptors led by as many as 24 points against the Nuggets, who cut the margin to three in the fourth quarter.

But VanVleet's eighth 3-pointer in 12 attempts gave Toronto a 15-point lead with 3:04 to play and Toronto avenged a loss at Denver last week.

"It was a good day," VanVleet said. "Sometimes you just have a rhythm and an energy, and a flow and my body felt good. ... We need these wins so whatever that means for our team, some nights it will be like this and other nights I will take nine shots and hopefully we can leave with a win."

O.G. Anunoby had 24 points while guarding Nikola Jokic, who had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

"It helps a lot, it helps tremendously having a guy who could guard these types of guys (like Jokic) and you can build a game plan around that knowing that he's going to make life tough," VanVleet said. "I hate looking at the box score on Jokic because you feel like you did a good job and he's 10-for-13 and he's got (28-8-7) ... but I thought O.G. did a great job on him, that's how good (Jokic) is. That helps build out your game plan from there. ... It just changes the dynamic so it's a great luxury to have."

"Well (Anunoby is) a really good defender," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "I don't know if he gets talked about for defensive player of the year much, but ... I don't know who else in the league guards that many positions."

--Field Level Media

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