Thunder’s balanced effort too much for Raptors
OKLAHOMA CITY — Midway through the fourth quarter, Carmelo Anthony sat relaxed on the scorer’s table for the last part of a timeout.
Anthony bobbed his head and mouthed the words to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” as the song played loudly in Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It wasn’t long ago that there was tension with Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder, with questions lingering of whether they would be able to figure out how to make things work with Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook in the offense.
Those questions faded away recently as Anthony fit into a new role in the offense while offense began coming easier for the Thunder.
On Wednesday night, that continued as Oklahoma City pulled away in the second half for a 124-107 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
“We took the shots that were good for us tonight,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “When you’re trying to play and figure all that out, it just takes time.
“They’re great guys, they’re unselfish, they want to play for each other. They’ve always been eager from day one to keep getting better.”
George scored 33 points and Westbrook added 30 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. Anthony and Steven Adams had 18 points apiece as Oklahoma City’s starting five shot 63 percent from the field.
“Did a good job of finding guys in their spot,” Westbrook said. “When we do that, it’s tough to guard us.”
George was 11 of 17 from the floor, including 7 of 10 from behind the 3-point arc as the Thunder shot 52.9 percent, topping 50 percent for the fourth time in five games.
The win was Oklahoma City’s sixth consecutive. Before this streak, the Thunder (20-15) hadn’t won more than three consecutive games all season.
While Oklahoma City’s offense has come together during this stretch, it is been the defense that has helped lift the Thunder in the past two wins over Houston and Toronto.
A big part of that fell Wednesday on Andre Roberson, who mostly stifled DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors star finished with 15 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
“He’s a great defender,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said of Roberson. “He’s as good as they get.
“Collectively, their team is hitting on all cylinders on both ends of the floor.”
C.J. Miles led Toronto with 20 points off the bench. Jonas Valanciunas added 16, while Kyle Lowry had 13 points and 10 assists.
“It was us,” DeRozan said. “We played like (garbage) as a team (and) down the line individually, and it showed.”
The Raptors heated up late in the first quarter, closing with a 15-0 run over the final 2:30 with Roberson on the bench. That stretch turned into a 23-2 surge before Roberson reentered the game two minutes into the second quarter with his team down by 12.
Toronto, after scoring 63 points in the first half, managed 44 after halftime.
“We ran into a well-oiled machine tonight,” Casey said. “We had stretches but just didn’t have the juice or the energy to come in.
“We should hurt. We should be down, be upset that we lost two in a row. We didn’t earn either game.”
Toronto (23-10) fell for the second consecutive game after winning six in a row.
After going 13 of 21 from the floor in the first quarter, the Raptors were 23 of 64 the rest of the way.
Just more than four minutes into the second quarter, a skirmish broke out. Valanciunas reached down to grab the ball from Westbrook after Adams was called for a foul and Westbrook was on the ground.
Westbrook soon worked his way out of the altercation as Adams took over in confronting Valanciunas.
After a review, Valanciunas and Westbrook were assessed technical fouls.
A few minutes later, Valanciunas and Adams got tangled up under the basket, with Valanciunas taking Adams to the ground. Both players were called for fouls.
NOTES: The game was delayed approximately four minutes with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter after a light bulb in the rafters of the arena caught fire. Flames briefly were visible and smoke wafted in the upper part of the arena for the rest of the quarter before dissipating. ... Toronto made its first 20 free-throw attempts, not missing until the final two minutes of the third quarter. ... Toronto’s 38 points were the most by a Thunder opponent in the first quarter this season. ... Raptors F C.J. Miles, in his second game back after missing three games following a dental procedure, played 22 minutes. Miles played just 10 minutes in a Tuesday loss at Dallas.