Posted by: Jeremy | December 4, 2010

Raps shut down Westbrook, run all over Thunder

Calderon led a second half push, handing out eight of his 15 assists in the third quarter

Anybody else getting used to these new look Raptors and liking them more everyday? The latest chapter in the post-Bosh era went down last night at Air Canada Centre, where Jose Calderon led a third quarter attack, dishing out eight of his 15 assists in a 111-99 with over the Seattle SuperSonics Oklahoma City Thunder. In six games since dumping Jarrett Jack on the Hornets, Toronto is 4-2, with Calderon averaging nine assists and rocking a 4.9 assist/turnover ratio.

Oklahoma City used a second quarter push to take a 59-52 lead to the half, but a 34-18 Raptors spurt in the third quarter built a lead they’d never look back on. Andrea Bargnani had his first double-double of the season (yeah, long overdue, you might say), scoring 26 on 11-of-20 and grabbing a season-high 12 boards, and DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson each had 14, with Johnson chipping in nine rebounds of his own. DeRozan’s strong showing was his second consecutive (he had 20 in a win over Washington on Wednesday), and made all-the-more impressive considering he actually knocked down a few jumpers from outside four feet. Hey, the kid may be coming along after all!

Now, the sidenote: Kevin Durant, the league’s reigning champ and current scoring leader, didn’t suit up for the Thunder. Yeah, it takes a little bit of shine off the upset, though the win shouldn’t be overlooked by any means — after all, Oklahoma City came in 3-0 with Durant out of the lineup this season and has been led as much by third-year point guard Russell Westbrook, who came in with averages of nearly 25 points, six rebounds and nine steals. To Calderon’s credit, he put his little fists of fury to work on the rising star, holding him to 20 and seven and forcing five turnovers in a rare display of defensive happy hands. Jeff Green, who scored 37 with Durant absent on Wednesday, was held to 17 and James Harden, who paced the Thunder’s bench attack with 20, was forced to do so on 5-of-14 shooting. All in all, an impressive effort and a fine win for the boys in red and white.

The win is the Raptors’ second in a row and sixth in eight games since starting 2-9, leaving them at 8-11 for the year — a game better than last season through 19 games, when I seem to recall superstars Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu were doing their best to run the show. Next up is a divisional matchup, with the shockingly solid Knicks, at 11-9 and fresh off a win in New Orleans, rolling in for an afternoon tilt tomorrow at the ACC.

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