Raptors unable to build on Wednesday’s overtime win against OKC

Paul George scored 28 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder exacted some revenge on Toronto Raptors with a 116-109 win on Friday.

Kawhi Leonard topped Toronto with 37 points. While Pascal Siakam had 25. Danny Green had six three-pointers to finish with 19 points. While Serge Ibaka scored 11 points, and Norm Powell grabbed 11 rebounds for the Raptors (51-22). Who were missing all-star guard Kyle Lowry.

Dennis Schroder added 26 points for the Thunder (43-30). Who snapped a four-game losing streak.

The Raptors had beaten the Thunder 123-114 two nights earlier at Oklahoma City. But not before blowing a 20-point second-half lead to force overtime.

Playing the second game of the back-to-back series, and their final game of the regular season against a team with a winning record. The Raptors led for most of the night. But Toronto saw its 13-point third-quarter advantage evaporate with 20-3 Thunder run.

Oklahoma City went into the fourth up 83-80.

The Raptors regained the lead briefly in the fourth. But consecutive three-pointers from George and Schroder put the Thunder up by 10 points in front of a capacity Scotiabank Arena crowd of 20,014.

The Raptors pulled to within four points twice down the stretch. Including with 1:40 to play on a dunk by Marc Gasol – his only two points of the game. A pair of Russell Westbrook free throws and a layup by Schroder iced the game for OKC with under a minute to play, sending fans pouring toward the exits.

Lowry sat for the second consecutive night with a right ankle injury. The fourth game in the last five he’s missed.

“He’s in pretty good shape,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “I think we’ve again checked it every way we can check it so there’s nothing really there other than some soreness. I think we’re saying next week sometime and day-to-day all in the same sentence. Just whenever that soreness goes away and he feels like he’s ready to go. He’s ready to go.”

The Raptors biggest win Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder came before the ball even went up.

Out to the centre circle at Scotiabank Arena strolled Kawhi Leonard, ready to lineup against Paul George. One of the few wings in the NBA that can match his size, talent and acumen.

As careful as the Raptors and Leonard have been over the course of the season in managing his health, it was fair to wonder before the game if Leonard would be available after putting in a tough 42 minutes against George and the Thunder on Wednesday as well as a day of travel.

“We’ll see how it goes moving forward, but me missing games isn’t just to keep me fresh,” said Leonard. “It’s obviously making sure I don’t re-injure something that I was out for last year. Like I said before they’ve been doing a good job of reading images and making sure that I’m improving instead of declining on the health side.

“It feels a lot better than when I started the season. There was a little spell where it kind of plateaued but everybody brought their minds together and we figured out a way and now things are looking good and I’m feeling good.”

The Raptors shot a sizzling 69 per cent in the first quarter, and 83 per cent from three-point range, going ahead by eight points on a finger roll by Siakam late in the frame. Toronto led 29-22 going into the second.

The Thunder used a 14-4 run in the second to slice Toronto’s 11-point lead to just a point. But the Raptors ended the half on a 9-0 run to head into the halftime break up 58-48.

The Raptors host Charlotte on Sunday and Chicago on Tuesday.

Peace,

Burke.

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