Westbrook scores 23 as Thunder rollsBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sun, Jan 6, 2013 5:30 PM EST
TORONTO -- When Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook drives to the hoop the way he did Sunday, fellow guard Kevin Martin sees a force that defies stopping. Westbrook led the Thunder to a 104-92 victory over the Toronto Raptors before a crowd of 17,634 at Air Canada Centre. "I see a bull going down and knocking everybody out of the way," Martin said. "His body is built for that. He attracts so much attention other people are getting shots." Westbrook led the Thunder with 23 points -- 12 in the third quarter -- as the Thunder took over the game. He also had seven assists as Oklahoma City won its second in a row. It was the second straight loss for the Raptors, who had a five-game home winning streak end on Friday by the Sacramento Kings. "I don't know what the numbers are, but they are one of the top defensive teams in the league," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We tried to have a mixture of running and pushing the ball in transition but you can't get into a rat race with this team, especially with one of the fastest guys in the league in Westbrook, because he is going to come right back at you." Westbrook said, "I just tried to stay in attack mode. In the first half, I saw a few things that I was going to come out and try to exploit in the second half. There were some plays where I had the opportunity to attack the basket and in the second half I did." It was the first of 11 road games this month for the Thunder (26-7), which is 17-3 at home this season and had a 12-game winning streak at Chesapeake Energy Arena end Jan. 2 with a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. "We have a lot of road games this month, so we have to keep on playing like we're playing at home, keep racking up the wins," said Martin, who scored 16 points in 34 minutes after coming off the bench. "We have a trust in this locker room, the bond is very tight. We just have to go out there and play together. We've been playing together at home and now we've got to take that on the road." Forward Kevin Durant added 22 points and seven rebounds for the Thunder while Serge Ibaka had 19 points and eight rebounds. From the bench, Martin contributed 16 points and Nick Collison had 10 points with eight rebounds. Swingman Alan Anderson came off the bench to lead Toronto with a career-high 27 points on 10-for-14 shooting. Center Amir Johnson, who has led the bench scoring seven times, scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Toronto in his first start of the season. DeMar DeRozan scored 11 on 4-for-16 shooting and point guard Jose Calderon added 10 points with 11 assists. Reserve guard Kyle Lowry added 10 points and eight assists. "We played good in the first half," Anderson said. "You can't keep exchanging points with a team like that. It almost plays to their advantage to keep scoring basket-for-basket. We have to get more stops. The team that gets more stops is going to win easily." Raptors rookie guard Terrence Ross left during the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle and did not return, playing 12 minutes without a point. The Thunder outscored the Raptors 26-17 in the third quarter to take an 11-point lead into the fourth. Martin's 11-foot fadeaway jumper had the Thunder leading 84-69 with 9:02 to play. Durant's driving finger-roll layup put the Thunder up by 16 with 5 minutes remaining. Kendrick Perkins made a dunk on a setup from Westbrook with 2:54 left in the game and the Thunder led 99-81 and had the game under control. The lead reached 21 before the Raptors scored 11 of the game's final 13 points. The Thunder increased its two-point halftime lead to seven after Westbrook's steal and driving layup with 5:33 to play in the third quarter. Westbrook converted two free throws to extend the lead to nine. After the Raptors were called for travelling, Collison hit a jumper and Durant followed by making the free throw after Casey was called for a technical foul to give the Thunder a 74-61 lead with 3:19 left in the quarter. Oklahoma City led by as many as 15 points before finishing the third quarter with a 78-67 lead. Thunder coach Scott Brooks blamed a lack of focus by his team for allowing Toronto to score 32 points in the second quarter. "We started the game off with good defense, the second half was good defense, that's how we win," he said. "That second quarter, we were just exchanging baskets and when you do that, teams can get comfortable, teams can get hot like they have been in the last 10 or 11 games." The Thunder scored the first seven points of the game and led 23-18 after one quarter. Anderson scored 19 points in the second quarter on 7-for-8 shooting and his fourth 3-pointer with 5:40 left in the half gave Toronto a 39-37 lead. Lowry's 3-pointer increased Toronto's lead to five but the Thunder came back to lead 52-50 at the half. Notes: Raptors center Aaron Gray, who had started the previous five games, was out with flu Sunday. ... Forward/center Andrea Bargnani (right elbow), center Jonas Valanciunas (right ring finger) and forward Linas Kleiza (right knee) are still out for Toronto. ... Ibaka and Calderon are teammates on Spain's national team. ... The Thunder entered Sunday with the best record in the league (25-7). "They've done probably one of the best jobs in the league in building a program from scratch," Casey said. "You can go right down the roster and each player presents a problem. ... Each player is one of the tops in the league in what they do." ... Brooks said: "The tough thing about this team, it's tough to get minutes. There are no scholarships here, you have to earn every minute and there might be two guys in front of you who are really good and they're young so it's tough to break in." ... The Thunder defeated the Raptors 108-88 on Nov. 6 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. ... The Raptors are at home Wednesday to the Philadelphia 76ers. ... The Thunder plays Monday against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center.
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