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Thunder pounds Raptors in Toronto

Mar 16, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Victor Oladipo (5) is congratulated by forward Taj Gibson (22) after scoring a basket against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Thunder beat the Raptors 123-102. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Adams and Enes Kanter posted a video earlier in the day promoting Russell Westbrook’s campaign to be MVP.

Adams calls Westbrook the “King of the Prairie,” at one point, but tonight, Westbrook was king of the basketball court once again.

Before halftime, Westbrook hit a jumper on offense then stole a pass the next defensive possession. As he ran down the court, he threw a half court nutmeg bounce pass to a driving Oladipo for a basket. It was arguably Westbrook’s best pass of his career and it drew oohs and ahhs from the Air Canada Centre crowd.

Westbrook’s pass capped the Thunder’s 123-102 win over the Raptors on Thursday night. It was the Thunders second straight road win after not winning away from Chesapeake Energy Arena since Jan 25.

The pass was part of Westbrook’s 34th triple-double of the season and 71st of his career. Westbrook had 24 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes. Westbrook didn’t play in the fourth quarter after helping the Thunder outscore the Raptors by 17 in the third quarter. Additionally, it was Westbrook’s fourth straight game with 13 or more assists. Oklahoma City had 33 assists as a team. Westbrook is on pace to have 41 triple-doubles this season, tying Oscar Roberson for most in a season.

Since the Thunder inserted Taj Gibson into the lineup, it’s been huge for them. Gibson’s defense and ability to run the pick and roll with Westbrook has been a big reason for the improvement in the Thunder offense and ball movement. Gibson has 10 points and four rebounds.

Seven Thunder players scored in double figures, with Westbrook’s 24 leading the way. Victor Oladipo (23), Enes Kanter (14), Andre Roberson (13) and the trio of Alex Abrines, Adams and Gibson with 10 points helped the Thunder score 123 points on one of the NBA’s top 5 defensive teams since the All-Star break. The Raptors gave up 78 points in their previous game.

OKC pulled away with two back-to-back dunks in the third quarter. First, Adams thundered down a dunk that drained the energy out of the arena. Oladipo followed it with another monster dunk the next possession to increase the lead to 15 and put the dagger in the Raptors.

OKC’s 33 assists led to it shooting 14-of-25 from three and 53.4 percent overall. The Thunder also had 43 bench points and 50 points in the paint.

The win makes it the Thunder’s fourth straight win after losing four straight. They’re now a season-high 10 games over .500 and a full game up over Memphis for the sixth seed n the Western Conference. The Thunder return home for a three-game home stand, starting against the Kings at 2 p.m. Saturday.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Limit DeRozan: A-

DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting and was ineffective compared to his game against the Thunder in November. He was a -25 and played only 28 minutes.

Three-Point Shooting: A+

The Thunder had one of their best games from three this season, shooting 14-of-25. Seven players hit a three for OKC, with Westbrook’s four leading the pack. Oladipo made his three attempts and Abrines and Doug McDermott each made two.

Play Fast: A-

OKC played almost as fast as it could. Although the Thunder had only 14 fast break points, they held Toronto to four point on the break. OKC controlled the pace of the game from the start in its wire-to-wire win.

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