Raptors crushed, embarrassed

Raptors Chris Bosh storms Thunder's Nick Collison during Friday night's game in Toronto. Photo by...

Raptors Chris Bosh storms Thunder's Nick Collison during Friday night's game in Toronto. Photo by Dave Thomas.

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:57 PM ET

Its one thing to lose a game when an opponent is superior, super athletic and presents matchups that are so one-sided that they cant be masked.

Its one thing to lose a game when a team plays hard and with passion and competes.

Its quite another when a teams will gets completely taken away, its collective psyche crushed and is rendered soulless.

Thats what happened to the Raptors Friday night when Thunder descended on the Air Canada Centre and where lightning struck as often as the boos rained down from the stands.

Oklahoma City is good, featuring greatness in Kevin Durant and a potential that has no boundary, save for the restrictions that accompany a cap system and the inevitable clash of ego.

What the Thunder did was run the Raptors completely off their home court, creating an atmosphere that had the home crowd turn on its team.

If ever a blueprint was drawn up on how to play on the road, it was manufactured by the Thunder, who revelled in the setting.

It was clinical as it was decisive and devastating.

It was simply awe-inspiring.

The Thunder didnt even shoot the ball well in the opening half, a 24-minute sequence that produced 71 points.

Thunder was matched only by blunder as the Raptors turned the ball over often, were vulnerable to second-chance points because of their unwillingness to box out and were completely guilty of not communicating on defence.

We pretty much got kicked in the ass, Chris Bosh said in the aftermath of an ugly 115-89 loss. We didnt respond. We didnt impose our will. There was no resistance.

Durant made 15 first-half trips to the line, tying the most by any opponent in Raptors history, a feat first accomplished by Grant Hill.

There was a huge disparity at the line, a 2:1 ratio that drew the ire of Jay Triano, who was teed up when he aired his beef.

At least Triano showed passion.

The Raptors knew they couldnt match up against Durant, who is a mismatch against virtually every player

in the league.

Players of Durants ilk are contained only by playing team defence, which requires defenders being on the same page.

It requires mental toughness and a willingness to sacrifice.

There was nothing as the Thunder rolled and rolled and continued to roll to the point where the Raptors were booed off the floor when trailing 71-44 at the break.

The Raptors had to get back in transition, box out and be quicker to the ball when tracking down misses.

Even then, their chances of success were thin.

Its an energy thing to go and find a body, Triano said of boxing out. You also have to be physical.

Outside of Chris Bosh, there was no heart, no pride and no sense of purpose.

Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani were particularly exposed.

On Torontos first possession, Turkoglu attempted one of the most ill-advised passes when he tried to lob a pass toward the rim with DeMar DeRozan, who was being guarded by Durant, positioned outside the key.

DeRozan would have needed the use of a trampoline just to have even the most remote of chances of completing the alley-oop.

It was the first of many turnovers for the Raptors, a fitting beginning on an evening where most of the highlights came courtesy of the visitors.

Not only is Turkoglu completely out of sync, he looked completely out of shape against the youthful and energetic Thunder.

Bargnani is only effective when hes making shots.

When his shots dont drop, he disappears from games, either ill-equipped or not determined enough to do other things such as rebound, set screens or box out.

On paper, in the standings, matchup-wise, talent-wise, Oklahoma City is better.

For that there can be no doubt.

The shame came in the way the Raptors lost.

About the only good thing is that the Raptors have no time to lament Fridays folly.

New Jersey awaits on Saturday, but not even the woeful Nets are a sure thing for the Raptors.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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