Thunder push to keep moving in positive direction vs. Raptors

NBA Basketball

The Oklahoma City Thunder responded to the worst loss in NBA history with a win and Wednesday night they hope that success carries over when they visit the Toronto Raptors.

The Thunder defeated host Detroit Pistons 114-103 Monday to end an eight-game losing streak.

The eighth loss of that streak was a 152-79 humiliation Thursday at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies, the 73 points being the largest margin in league history.

Then Monday the Thunder trailed by as many as 18 points before they rallied to outscore Detroit 42-22 in the fourth quarter. They made 13 straight shots in the fourth quarter, when they were 17-for-19 from the field.

“There’s a randomness to that just like there’s a randomness to shooting any night, but I thought we played with good rhythm,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said.

The Raptors defeated the Washington Wizards 102-90 on Sunday for their second consecutive win at home, where they have struggled with a 4-8 record.

“We were really connected, not a whole lot of mistakes, most of the shots had somebody in front of them, one way or another,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought that group that started set the tone, but I also thought every single guy that came in off the bench brought the same kind of energy and maybe even a little more.”

The Raptors were again without OG Anunoby (hip pointer) and Khem Birch (knee), and a return date has not been identified for either player.

“They’re out for the foreseeable future,” Nurse said Tuesday.

With Birch out, Precious Achiuwa has assumed a bigger role at center. He had 10 points and 14 rebounds in 30 minutes Sunday.

“I just think he’s getting better, and I think part of that getting better is he’s understanding how we’re doing things and he’s doing them more consistently,” Nurse said. “And we obviously do our best to give him things that’ll work for him and work for us and doing those over and over and he’s learning them and he’s doing better.”

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a game-best 30 points and a career-best 13 assists against the Pistons on Monday, when he was 9-for-20 from the field and 12-for-15 on free throws.

Oklahoma City outscored Detroit in the paint 58-34 .

“We just know our brand of basketball that we want to play,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “It’s downhill and getting to the paint.”

Gilgeous-Alexander had sustained a concussion last week and missed the Thursday night blowout loss in Memphis.

By Monday, Derrick Favors (flu) and Kenrich Williams (ankle sprain) were also back in the OKC lineup. Williams, who missed the previous three games, had four steals and scored 12 points off the bench.

“Yeah, he was a monster tonight,” Daigneault said. “It was great having him back out there. He brings great spirit, gets to loose balls, rebounds and he takes great pride in the areas of the game that are competitive but invisible and team-oriented.”

Luguentz Dort scored 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting Monday, including 5-for-10 in 3-point attempts. He is shooting 33.5 percent from 3-point range on the season.

“It’s been impressive, but not surprising,” Daigneault said. “Nothing he does surprises me at this point. It’s just who he is. He sees everything as a challenge. When he faces adversities or struggles, he frames them in a really, really optimistic way. … He just puts his head down and works.”

–Field Level Media

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