The Toronto Raptors’ energy and effort had a bounce-back game but could not sustain it for 48 minutes. Coach Darko Rajakovic and the Raptors built a 23-point lead midway through the third period. Still, the visitors could not keep up with the second-youngest team in the league, as the Oklahoma City Thunder dragged the Raptors to two overtime periods and eventually outlasted them 135-127.
RJ Barrett’s return could not help push the Raptors over the top despite his all-around play throughout the game. He led the team with 23 points, seven boards, and four assists. Immanuel Quickley had 11 dimes, came alive, and tried to carry the Raptors in the fourth period and OT, scoring 12 of his 17 points during this stretch. Unfortunately, it was the opposite for Scottie Barnes, as he only scored 2 of his 19 points in the fourth and OT. Barnes did manage to finish the night with nine dimes and seven boards.
RJ BARRETT WITH THE POSTER pic.twitter.com/90poM4vyEV— Ahn Fire Digital (@AhnFireDigital) February 5, 2024
Jakob Poeltl had a near-perfect night from the field, finishing with 19 points and 12 boards while shooting 8-for-9 from the field. Gary Trent Jr. added 16 points while shooting 4-for-8 from the perimeter, while Dennis Schroder’s 19 points, eight boards, and four dimes led the Raptors bench.
The Raptors managed to slow down Shai Gilgeous-Alexander by showing several defenders every time he got the ball. Still, MVP-type players find ways to show up and take over when their team needs them. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 23 points, 14 dimes, and nine boards despite all the defensive attention. Fellow Canadian Lu Dort made timely shots in the fourth and OT, finishing with 22 points on five trifectas. Josh Giddey led the Thunder’s balanced scoring with 24 points, including the game-sealing and-1 in the second OT. However, Aaron Wiggins provided the spark for the Thunder, who made three of his four perimeter bombs in the third period to help the Thunder get back into the game.
It looked like the Raptors were on the way for a bounce-back game after that nightmare-ish Houston Rockets game the other day. For 30 minutes of game play, the Raptors showed us a glimpse of the future — great execution of coach Rajakovic’s offense, pretty good defensive game plan, and excellent effort on both ends of the floor. For a while, it looked like Thunder coach Mark Daigneault was grasping at straws. However, the Raptors’ effort and defense started to show cracks in the armour midway through the third period, and the Thunder took advantage and swung the momentum from there. Perhaps the Raptors’ gas tank was a big factor, and it’s not surprising to see, as they’re not used to playing that committed for more than spurts of the game. Gas tank or not, everyone’s probably wondering what the Raptors were trying to do with their ATO plays in OT. But hey, at least the Raptors are back in the moral victory winning column.
I know the Toronto Raptors are tanking, but there needs to be better final possession ATO plays drawn up.— عمر عثمان Mike Tyson’s Translator (@OmerOsman200) February 5, 2024
This has been the theme all season, especially that game vs Boston. pic.twitter.com/OjWiz0JrIF
The Raptors had a good first possession, with Barrett drawing defenders into the paint before kicking the ball out to Trent Jr. for a wide-open trifecta. Thunder rookie Cason Wallace dropped consecutive perimeter shots. The free-flowing pace and much better effort allowed the Raptors to go toe-to-toe with the young, talented Thunder team early in the game, with the game deadlocked at 12 points before coach Darko Rajakovic called the first timeout of the game.
The Raptors responded with a 9-4 run, with the Thunder falling in love too much with the perimeter shots that weren’t falling (2-for-9 at this point), forcing Thunder coach Mark Daigneault to use a timeout. The Raptors finished with a Barnes+bench lineup, and that meant Dennis Schroder’s time to bet on himself, but at least Gradey Dick was able to show us a couple of nifty moves. A solid two-way play by the Raptors to close the quarter, capped by Thaddeus Young’s pick-six at the buzzer, gave the Raptors a 33-23 lead after the first frame, and according to Raptors play-by-play Matt Devlin, their first lead after the first period since the Miami Heat game.
Coach Rajakovic opened the second frame by getting Barnes a good post-up touch. Unfortunately for the Raptors, the Thunder rediscovered their perimeter shooting and got to an 8-2 start, cutting the Raptors’ lead to four. However, a few solid defensive possessions and Schroder’s personal 5-0 run pushed the lead back to nine, forcing the Thunder to regroup. Quickley, Barrett, and Poeltl got back for their second shift, showing great energy on both ends of the floor, and extended the run that Schroeder started, turning it into a 16-5 run, building a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter, forcing the Thunder to call for another timeout.
Perhaps one of the best defensive stands by this new-look Raptors post-Siakam trade, they locked up the Thunder and Gilgeous-Alexander for almost three straight minutes, and Trent Jr. gave them their biggest lead of the half with a 17-point lead. Thunder’s Jaylin Williams broke the dry spell for the hosts with a corner three, but the Raptors were able to close out strong with a 63-47 lead at the half.
Raptors hold the Thunder to 47 points on 42.2% shooting, tied for the 2nd fewest points the Thunder have scored in a first half this season.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) February 5, 2024
It's just the 7th time that OKC has been down double-digits at halftime this season. pic.twitter.com/WhieKw10Br
Thunder coach Daigneault opened the sconed half with a major adjustment, benching Josh Giddey in favour of Jaylin Williams. It looked like it was working for the first minute of the second half, but the Raptors adjusted. Barnes’ feathery assist to Poeltl for a layup gave the Raptors an 18-point lead, forcing coach Daigneault to call for time three minutes into the half. The Raptors kept pushing their lead, and a Barnes’ catch-and-shoot trifecta gave them a 23-point lead.
However, slippage in defense and overall effort, coupled with the Raptors going cold, allowed the Thunder to go on a 14-2 run to cut their lead to 11, forcing coach Rajakovic to call for time. Unfortunately, the timeout didn’t work, as they allowed Aaron Wiggins to hit his third trifecta of the quarter. Giddey’s floater pushed the run to 19-2, diminishing the Raptors lead to six. The OGs delivered for the Raptors, with Young and Schroder going on a 5-0 run to slow down the Thunder’s momentum. Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder continued to chip into the lead. Still, fortunately, the Raptors got saved by the bell, escaping the third frame with an 87-81 lead.
The Thunder started the fourth period with a sense of urgency, outworking and out-executing the Raptors in the first two minutes of the final frame, forcing coach Rajakovic to call for a quick timeout and take out Gradey Dick. The regroup and substitution didn’t help, as defensive slippage and the Thunder’s defense stepping up caught the Raptors backpedalling, allowing Giddey to tie the game at 91, forcing another Raptors timeout. Coach Rajakovic’s counter was to call Schroder’s number a couple of times, which didn’t work. The Thunder outworked the Raptors again with a 50-50 ball, resulting in a layup and a 93-91 Thunder lead.
Quickley’s 5 quick points kept the Thunder from fully wrestling the game away, and Trent Jr.’s back-to-back trifectas gave the Raptors the lead back at 101-100, forcing a Thunder timeout. The Thunder came back with another Dort wide-open three, and Barnes got a lefty hook shot in over Holmgren. Dort found Wiggins under the basket for a layup, and Schroder and Giddey exchanged trifectas.
Under two minutes to go. Quickley got fouled on a layup attempt but missed the second freebie. The Raptors managed to grab the offensive rebound, but Barrett missed a wide-open three. Poeltl was fouled on the rebound battle but split his freebies, tying the game at 108. Giddey missed what probably is the only contested Thunder perimeter attempt of the quarter, which he missed, and Quickley got to the tin for a layup to give the Raptors a 110-108 lead with 70 seconds to go.
Wiggins missed a corner three, but Schroder missed a floater. Gilgeous-Alexander missed a middy with about 10 seconds to go, and Barrett secured the board. However, Giddey forced him to turn the ball over, and the Thunder got the ball back with five seconds remaining. The home team called for a timeout, and a well-executed SLOB play got Wiggins for an easy layup with 4 seconds to go, tying the game at 110. Timeout Raptors. It wasn’t smooth, but a couple DHO got Barrett a nice look from the perimeter, but the shot was off. We go on extra time.
The Raptors ran their offense through Quickley, and he delivered, but Gilgeous-Alexander shifted gears in OT. Meanwhile, the Quickley-led offense dried up as fatigue started to catch up, and Barnes was inexplicably a non-participant offensively. The Raptors had a chance to take the game a couple of times. Still, a couple of timeouts made it look like coach Rajakovic didn’t have a plan drawn out, as the Thunder stuffed whatever the Raptors tried to do to force a second OT.
The Raptors got a transition attempt after the jump, but Barnes, much like in OT, didn’t even want to shoot anymore. Dort banked a trifecta, but Barrett came back with a vicious dunk. Holmgren hit another trifecta to give the Thunder a four-point lead. Still, Barnes found Quickley in the corner for a trifecta. Dort got to the basket for an and-1, and Barnes air-balled his perimeter shot. The Raptors allowed the Thunder to get a second possession that led to a Wiggins corner three, giving the home team a 130-123 lead with less than 100 seconds to go and perhaps the game. Schoder picked Dort and was fouled in his layup attempt, cutting the lead to five. Wiggins missed a three, and Barrett got a quick transition layup with 45 seconds to go to cut the lead to three. Giddey’s and-1 put the game away, as the gassed-out Raptors could not even put up enough resistance on that slow-moving layup.