Raptors hand Thunder first home loss of season
If the Toronto Raptors can play at home the way they have been playing on the road, they might just remain atop the Atlantic Division for a while.
Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, making a pair of clinching free throws with 9.8 seconds left, and the Raptors handed the Oklahoma City Thunder their first home loss with a 104-98 victory on Sunday night.
The Raptors outscored Oklahoma City 6-0 in the final 1:25, all on free throws, and ended the Thunder’s nine-game winning streak. Oklahoma City had been 13- 0 at home, the NBA’s longest unbeaten stretch to open a season since the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first 23 home games during the 2007-08 season.
Amir Johnson had 17 points and 13 assists for Toronto, which won its fourth straight road game, its longest such streak since March-April 2002. Oklahoma City lost for the first time since Dec 4 at Portland.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey called the win, which moved the Raptors past Boston into first place in the Atlantic, his team’s biggest of the season. Toronto’s road streak began with a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec 8 and the Raptors added wins at Chicago and Dallas before beating the Thunder.
“It’s one of those mysteries we have, of our focus on the road,” Casey said. “We are a different team. I see it in our eyes before the game.”
Russell Westbrook scored 27 points and Kevin Durant added 24 for Oklahoma City, which missed its final four shots.
Veteran forward John Salmons, who scored 14 points and hit the go- ahead free throws for Toronto, said winning on the road “just shows our mental toughness as a unit.
“Sometimes it’s fun to play on the road, because it’s just us against everybody else.”
“It’s the NBA,” Casey said. “It happens. They are one of the best defensive teams in the league. We knew they were going to come out in the third quarter with their best effort, which they did. We sustained it and took the punch.”
Kyle Lowry drives to the basket around Thunder forward Serge Ibaka during the game on Sunday.