DeMar DeRozan won a shootout with Russell Westbrook, scoring 37 points to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 112-102 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
DeRozan, the NBA’s leading scorer with a 34.1 average heading into the game, made 13 of 22 field goals and 11 of 15 free throws.
“You know, sometimes you’ve got to tip your hat, and good offence can beat great defence,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He had that happen several times where he made some very, very difficult shots.”
Westbrook had 36 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but he made just 9 of 26 shots and committed eight turnovers.
“I thought everybody that guarded him did a decent job, but it was a five-man job,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Not one guy is going to stop him, and I say that all the time. It’s on the team.”
Kyle Lowry added 19 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds and Patrick Patterson had 13 points for the Raptors. Toronto, which shot 51.8 percent from the field, has won four of five.
The Thunder (6-2) entered the night tied for the NBA’s best record, but their offence was inconsistent against the Raptors, and they couldn’t find and answer for DeRozan. Victor Oladipo scored 18 points and Steven Adams added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Oklahoma City.
The Raptors led 62-55 at halftime behind DeRozan’s 22 points. Toronto scored 16 points off 11 Oklahoma City turnovers in the first half.
“Little things like us turning the ball over, then leading to fast breaks,” Oladipo said. “Rotations weren’t great today. Little things like that that we can correct. We’ve just got to continue getting better and push forward.”
A bounce pass by Lowry led to a jam by DeMarre Carroll that gave Toronto a 68-59 lead, and a basket by Pascal Siakam bumped the lead to 11 and led to a timeout by the Thunder. DeRozan’s mid-range jumper in the closing seconds of the third quarter gave the Raptors an 88-75 lead.
The Thunder opened the fourth quarter with a 9-1 run to cut the deficit to 89-84. Oklahoma City eventually cut the deficit to four, but the Raptors rallied, and Lowry’s 3-pointer bumped Toronto’s lead back to 10 with 3:32 to play.
“DeMar did a great job of getting to his spots, getting to the free throw line, and Kyle did a great job running the team,” Oladipo said. “We’re going to have to do a better job next time we play them.”
Valanciunas misses 2nd straight game
Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas was not in the lineup for the second straight game due to a left knee contusion.
Rookie Jakob Poeltl started in his place.
“We’ve still got the whole season in front of us,” Valanciunas told reporters after shootaround Wednesday morning. “It’s not something major…It’s a couple of games, couple of days.”
Valanciunas has averaged 13.8 points in his first five games, playing 31 minutes per game.