By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
OKLAHOMA CITY — OKLAHOMA CITY -- Riding a 13-game home win streak, “The Peake” was beginning to take on mythical proportions. With victories over the L.A. Clippers, Golden State and Indiana already under their belt, the Oklahoma City Thunder faithful were sure the streak would last well into 2014.
Yet, it was a squad no one suspected that finally put a halt to the Thunder’s home dominance for one night when the Toronto Raptors earned a 104-98 victory Sunday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“It’s a huge win,” Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said. “These guys at their place have really kind of been unbeatable. For us to come in here and get a win is a huge confidence boost.”
The loss not only ended the Thunder’s 13-game home win streak to start the season, it also put a halt to a nine game overall win streak.
“We had a great little streak going at home,” Thunder coach Scott brooks said. “Now we just have to go out on the road and get a win. We’ve done a great job of protecting our home court. Give them credit, they played a good basketball game. They hung around and won it at the end.”
With 4:34 left in the fourth quarter, Raptors (11-14) guard John Salmons tied the game with a jumper. Center Jonas Valanciunas and Lowry scored five straight and the Thunder found themselves trailing 98-93 with 2:20 remaining.
But Oklahoma City (22-5) responded with a pair of free throws from Perry Jones III and a Kevin Durant 3-pointer at the top of the key to tie the game. Guard DeMar DeRozen answered with a jumper to give the Raptors a two point lead.
The Thunder had a couple of chances to tie the game or take the lead, but their shots were off the mark. After a mad scramble for a loose ball, Toronto got possession with 25 seconds left. Forward Amir Johnson was fouled and knocked in a pair of free throws to push the lead to four with 14.5 on the clock.
Durant’s next shot was off the mark and Lowry put the contest away with a trip to the free-throw line.
Westbrook paced the Thunder with 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Durant scored 24 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
Lowry led the Raptors with 22 points to go along with nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. Johnson and DeRozen each scored 17 points in the win.
Lowry knew his matchup with Westbrook at the point guard spot would be pivotal if the Raptors were going to pull off the upset.
Toronto looked like it had caught Oklahoma City on the right night when it stormed out to a 68-57 lead to begin the third period. The Thunder starters were dragging around the court as the Raptors outhustled them to rebounds and loose balls.
At that point, Durant and Westbrook found an extra gear as Oklahoma City outscored Toronto 27-7 to close out the period.
“Losses happen in this league,” Durant said. “They beat us fair and square. We just have to take this loss on the chin and move on.”
Notes: Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey found himself siding with Oklahoma City C Kendrick Perkins when it comes to opposing players coming into the locker room. “You have to have some sanctity,” Casey said. “I have a lot of friends in the NBA, but I don’t like buddy, buddy before the game. The guy is trying to take your livelihood. We don’t have a rule in our locker room, but I agree with Perk.” ... Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team does not have a defined sixth man. On any given night, Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Nick Collison or Steven Adams could be the first player off the bench. “Reggie has done a great job,” Brooks said.
“But we feel that Jeremy has, Steve and Nick. Whoever goes into that lineup, whether first or last guy off the bench, I have confidence in them.”
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