The defending champion Golden State Warriors were supposed to exact revenge on the Toronto Raptors for a defeat earlier in the season. Instead, the Raptors walked into Oracle on the second night of a back-to-back, without the injured Kawhi Leonard, and delivered a 113-93 thumping.
Kevin Durant did his best, scrapping his way to 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in the loss. But it was the Splash Bros who were no shows in this heavyweight exhibition between the two best teams in the league. Klay Thompson scored a paltry 14 points, and Stephen Curry contributed a feeble 10 points. The normally dynamic duo were limited to 2-of-13 shooting from three-point range.
Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 23 points as all five starters scored in double digits. Serge Ibaka added 20 points of his own, and the Raptors won their first game in Oakland since 2004.
Toronto ran out to an early 31-22 advantage after the first quarter with a combination of relentless driving to the rim and suffocating defense. They rotated and switched cleanly on defense, communicating and choking off the Warriors vaunted attack.
The champs shot 3-for-17 from downtown in the first half partly because the Raptors are experts at running shooters off of the three-point line, and also because the Warriors flat out missed a few open ones. Offensively the Raptors couldn’t shoot much better from beyond the arc (4-of-14), but kept a downhill attack and shot 51% from the field after two quarters. They scored 30 points in the paint and looked comfortable whether they galloped into easy looks in transition or methodically posted up in the half court.
And this was without “Cornrows” Leonard! Yeesh.
Clinical pick & roll execution pic.twitter.com/cYewX2diO1— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 13, 2018
The only real drama for Toronto came when Draymond Green swiped at a Jonas Valanciunas dribble and sent the Raptors’ center reeling in pain.
Injury update at GSW: Jonas Valanciunas, left thumb dislocation. Will not return.— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 13, 2018
Oh yeah, and Durant blowing through Toronto’s defense late in the second quarter for an emergency meeting at the rim with former teammate Serge Ibaka.
Other than that jam, Toronto’s length and athleticism walled the Dubs away from the rim. The Dubs had a season low 41 points at the half!
Raptors 57, Warriors 41
The Warriors began playing a more focused brand of defense. They cranked the pace up to Sonic the Hedgehog levels and started hurling up three-point attempts like a prime Mike Tyson searching for a soul rattling knockout. Unfortunately, those threes didn’t really land, and the Raptors weathered the storm with calculated aggression on both ends.
Durant absorbed some physical punishment in the third quarter as he battled in spirited fashion, but every time he scored, the Raptors answered with ease.
Productive but painful quarter for Kevin Durant. Hit a ton of jumpers, but smashed his elbow falling on a drive, just got kicked in the stomach contesting a layup.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 13, 2018
The Raptors took their time posting up Warriors defenders with impunity, especially if they could get a big man guarded by a small man on a switch. It was like CLOCKWORK. Toronto also completely neutralized the Warriors pick-and-rolls by smothering the ball handler and forcing them to quickly give up the ball. The Raptors’ backside rotations cleaned up any potential problems, and the Warriors found themselves throwing up desperation mid-range jumpers without any daylight.
As the Raptors calmly strangled the life out of the Warriors down the stretch, it dawned on me that this is the first team this season that actually made me consider them a true postseason threat. These dudes can ball.
The Warriors were limited to 47% shooting from the field, and only made 6-of-26 (23%) from beyond the arc. It’s always tough to win when Curry has more turnovers (4) than made field goals (3).
Drake’s drinking champagne tonight, folks. When’s DeMarcus Cousins joining the lineup again?