Not Blowing This One

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Raptors Overcome Thunder Comeback Efforts, Bounce Back on the Road

Over the past couple of weeks or so, a usually disciplined Toronto Raptors team has found itself struggling to close out games.

On Wednesday night, Norman Powell wasn’t willing to let another game slip away.

Who needs to work the rust off anyways?

After scoring 20 points in his first game back from injury on Sunday, Norman Powell followed up that performance with a 23 points effort on 9-for -11 shooting, propelling the Raptors to a big 130-121 road victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I’ve just tried to come back and assert myself and be aggressive in the flow of the offense and play my game and continue to take what the defense is giving me,” ¬†said Powell following the win. “You don’t want to go outside yourself. When they go on a run like that, you just try to get everybody on the same page.”

In a game that seemed well at hand, the Raptors led the Thunder by 30 points at one point and slowly watched the lead dwindle all the way down to three in the winding minutes of the fourth quarter.

Such has been life over the past couple of weeks.

The Raptors controlled a game against the Portland Trailblazers start to finish last week, only to lose in heart-breaking fashion. Sunday’s affair against the San Antonio Spurs boasted a similar storyline. In fact, the Raptors first meeting of the season against the Thunder was eerily similar as well. Tonight, the Raptors fought off their demons by stringing together a few key defensive stops down the stretch and capitalizing offensively in the clutch to overcome the surging Thunder.

“Just calmed down a little bit,” commented Kyle Lowry on how the Raptors were able to settle down late in the fourth quarter and close out the victory. “Just got a little bit more patient. Got the ball in the guy’s hands that we need to have the ball in. That’s what we need to do. We find a way, but we can’t put ourselves in those positions all the time.”

The hope is that tonight’s win helps the Raptors shake the monkey off their backs. Up 14 heading into the fourth quarter, the Raptors were up by 21 points we just over six minutes remaining in the game, before the Thunder nearly forced yet another Raptors collapse.

“I think to start the game, we don’t bring it every game,” said Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous Alexander, who finished the night with 21 points, six rebounds, and six assists to boot. “When we do bring it, we’re tough to beat and can play with anybody. But obviously, you guys see that when we don’t, we get down against a lot of teams. That’s something we’ll fix and we’ll get better at. I’m not worried about that.”

Meanwhile, the Raptors had seven players finish in double-figures.

Both OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam paced Powell with 21 points apiece, while Kyle Lowry finished the night with 17 points. Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka had 15 points each, and Terence Davis pitched in with 10 points of his own in what was a total team victory.

Now improving to 26-14, the Raptors continue to get healthier by the day after seeing Gasol return to the lineup on Wednesday night. The final concern remains Fred VanVleet who the Raptors hope to see return in the short term.

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