Raptors wait on Win #50 after Thunder loss

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DeRozan drives past Andre Roberson in Toronto | image via Raptors.com Ron Turenne

DeRozan drives past Andre Roberson in Toronto | image via Raptors.com Ron Turenne

TORONTO – It wasn’t pretty as Oklahoma City rolled through Toronto and dominated the banged up Raptors.

OKC jumped out to a 11-2 advantage, led 97-74 through three quarters and won 119-100 after all was said and done. It was only the fifth time this year the Raptors lost by 15 or more.

No Terrence Ross who was out with a sore left thumb, and still no DeMarre Carroll. Kyle Lowry’s cold streak continues and he had fluid drained from his troublesome elbow after the loss, after shooting just 26.2% in his last four outings.

“It’s definitely something I don’t like playing with, don’t want to play with,” said Lowry post-game of the elbow issue. “At this time of the year you just play through it and it is what it is.”

What it is could be trouble for Toronto, as they count down to the post-season they need a healthy Lowry more than ever.

Russell Westbrook notched his league-leading 16th triple-double of the season with 26 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds and Kevin Durant added 34 points, eight rebounds and assists.

Toronto was led by DeRozan’s 19 points and 18 from the rookie Norman Powell who drew another start in the injury plagued lineup.

[FULL STATS HERE]

Toronto shot 40.9% compared to the Thunder’s 47.7% and the length, athleticism and size of the Thunder’s interior defenders gave Toronto fits, while they couldn’t slow OKC in transition as they punished the Raptors for every mistake.

“I thought we let frustration on the offensive end set in,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said post-game while addressing the media. “We didn’t play with physicality on that end of the floor and that carried over to the defensive end.”

Don’t say they’ve peaked. The Raptors are just in a holding pattern while they won’t catch the dysfunctional Cavaliers for the East’s top spot and are in no danger of slipping to third.

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What to do until April 16th though? Keep playing basketball and don’t let bad habits creep in.

Fans in Toronto remember last years’ swoon that led to a swift playoff exit.

With Casey’s rotations in flux the Raptors’ bid for 50 wins for the first time in history, long awaited by patient fans of the only franchise yet to eclipse that mark, will wait another day. Focusing on preparing for the playoffs where they’ll meet more elite teams like OKC.

Toronto is 6-3 against the top six teams in the Western Conference; Golden State, San Antonio, OKC, LA Clippers, Memphis, Portland. The Raptors also play the Grizzlies and Spurs this week.

DeRozan is having the third-best scoring season in Raptors history and will have to shoulder more of the load in the stretch run if rest will help Lowry round into post-season form.

Norman Powell continues to make a big impact, and is one of two rookies selected in the 2015 second round to start multiple games. The experience he’s gaining now makes the Raptors a deeper team going forward.

With eight games to go, Toronto will need all hands on deck if they want to be considered the elite team their top-5 record should indicate.

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