Thunder wins to begin tough stretch
BY IAN HARRISON Associated Press
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 6:05 AM
TORONTO - To Kevin Durant, an early afternoon start in Toronto against an improving Raptors team was a recipe for an ambush.
But with a balanced offensive attack, the Thunder prevailed, 104-92.
"This is one of those trap games when you play at 1 p.m. in Toronto," Durant said. "It's a tough place to play. A few teams came in here and lost around this time. We knew we had to be focused and have a lot of energy from the beginning."
Russell Westbrook scored 23 points, Durant had 22 and Oklahoma City got off to a winning start on a stretch comprised of 11 road games and just two home games.
Serge Ibaka had 19 points and eight rebounds and Kevin Martin scored 16 for Oklahoma City, which came in having played an NBA-low 12 road games this season but improved to 9-4 as visitors.
"We just want to keep on playing like we're at home and keep on racking up the wins," Martin said.
Nick Collison had 10 points and eight rebounds to help the Thunder win for the fifth time in eight games since their season-long 12-game winning streak.
With former Buffalo Bills and Oklahoma State running back Thurman Thomas in the crowd, Oklahoma City improved to 14-0 this season when at least five players score in double figures.
"Everybody participated, everybody chipped in and everybody did their job," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We're good when we force the defense to chase the ball around and the ball finds a good shot. It's not really who finds it, just as long as it's a good shot."
Westbrook and Durant each had seven assists, the most for Durant since dishing out a career-high 10 against Golden State on Nov. 18.
"Kevin is the best scorer in the game," Westbrook said. "He can score whenever he pleases but he does a great job of keeping his teammates involved."
Alan Anderson scored 19 of his career-high 27 points in the second quarter and Amir Johnson had 19 for the Raptors, who lost their second straight after winning eight of nine.
"I praised our guys, the way we fought and scrapped," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "But at the end of day reality set in."
DeMar DeRozan scored 11 points but made just four of 16 field-goal attempts. DeRozan made only 3 of 11 attempts in Friday's loss to Sacramento.
"We wanted to make sure we didn't give him any easy shots," Brooks said. "He's an athletic guy that can get to the rim and his mid-range game is good."
Kyle Lowry scored 10 for the Raptors, who had won four of their previous five home meetings with Oklahoma City. Jose Calderon had 10 points and 11 assists as Toronto dropped to 6-14 against Western Conference opponents.
Toronto guard Terrence Ross left one minute into the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle and did not return.
Casey said Ross' injury is not considered serious but declined to say whether the rookie would be available for Wednesday's game against Philadelphia.
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook drives past Toronto's Jose Calderon during Sunday's game in Toronto. FRANK GUNN / The Canadian Press / AP