Thunder's defence is key factor in victory

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook appears to test the limits of gravity as he evades Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas (right) during the Thunder's 119-100 victory in Toronto on Monday.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook appears to test the limits of gravity as he evades Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas (right) during the Thunder's 119-100 victory in Toronto on Monday. PHOTO: REUTERS

TORONTO • Despite solid offensive performances from stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan was more impressed by his National Basketball Association club's defensive effort on Monday.

Durant poured in a game-high 34 points and Westbrook added his 16th triple-double as the Thunder defeated the Toronto Raptors 119-100 to extend their winning run to a season-high eight games.

"I was really pleased with the offence, I thought we really shared and moved the basketball and created and generated a lot of good shots for each other," Donovan said. "But I thought our defence was really good. We were aggressive, we had rim protraction and we did it without fouling."

The Thunder held the Raptors to 40.9 per cent shooting from the field and 33.3 per cent from beyond the three-point arc.

Oklahoma City are holding opponents to 42.2 per cent shooting, including 31.2 per cent from three-point range during their winning streak.

Toronto (49-24) were led by DeMar DeRozan, who finished with 19 points and five assists. Norman Powell added a career-high 18 points, Patrick Patterson scored 13 and Jonas Valanciunas contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.

"We competed early on and then they got a little stride with it," DeRozan said. "They ran away with it, they got hot, they got into a rhythm with their offence. They gambled in the passing lanes on defence, got some steals, got out and got easy buckets."

The Atlantic Division-leading Raptors lost for the third time in four games and dropped three games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for top spot in the Eastern Conference.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Thunder's defence is key factor in victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe