TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors’ attempt at a franchise-record 12 straight wins imploded in the dying seconds Sunday.
When the dust finally settled, the Oklahoma City Thunder had prevailed 132-125 and the Raptors were missing coach Dwane Casey, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka, who were all ejected with 8.1 seconds left. Star point guard Kyle Lowry fouled out with 3:18 remaining.
Tied at 125-125 with 54.9 seconds remaining, Oklahoma City scored the last seven points as the Raptors let their emotions get the better of them.
Russell Westbrook led the OKC charge, scoring 37 points and recording his 102nd career triple-double as the Thunder (43-29) won their sixth straight and ninth of 11. Westbrook had 14 assists and 13 rebounds for his fifth consecutive triple-double and his 23rd of the season. Only Oscar Robertson (181), Magic Johnson (138) and Jason Kidd (107) have more triple-doubles.
Toronto (52-18) was left fuming as security escorted the officials of the floor amidst a cacophony of boos from the sellout crowd of 19,800.
While a stone-faced Casey said he would complain about the officiating through the proper channels — "All we want to ask for is fairness and consistency" — DeRozan did not pull any punches.
"Man, they need to do something," DeRozan said of the officiating. "Because it’s not just us, it’s every game. But tonight? Come on, man. That can’t happen. Can’t happen."
DeRozan’s emotions bubbled over when, with some 30 seconds remaining and the Raptors trailing 127-125, there was no call on OKC’s Corey Brewer on a DeRozan layup attempt.
"He smacked me," DeRozan said with feeling. "He tried to smack me because I had a layup. Period. I got fouled."
Asked if the officiating cost them the game, DeRozan replied: "What did you think? You think so? It’s obvious for us."
Lowry supported DeRozan but was careful not to pour gasoline on the fire.
"I’ve got my dog’s back, no matter what he’s saying," said Lowry. "I’m riding with my dog, no matter what."
Casey said the game got out of hand at the end but declined to criticize the officials openly saying "We made enough mistakes down the stretch also."
"We shot ourselves in the foot, we missed some easy shots, layups, free throws, turnovers. And that’s a good team," he said of the Thunder. "But we’ll complain in the right, proper way of how the game is called. And again officials are going to miss calls. But at the juncture of the game where some of the calls were made, we’ve got to get it right around the league. Not just this game, but our entire league."
The Raptors were called for 25 fouls, compared to 24 for the Thunder. And Casey acknowledged his team got frustrated late in the game and could have handled things better.
"It’s a four-point game. We can’t allow it to get out of hand like that."
Westbrook scored 17 of his 37 points in a fourth quarter that saw the Thunder outscore the Raptors 35-27. A Westbrook two-pointer with 12.3 seconds remaining and three free throws on the string of technicals sealed the OKC win.
It was a back-and-forward game that saw 25 lead changes and 20 ties.
Six Raptors scored in double figures led by DeRozan’s 24 points.
While Toronto’s bench outscored the Thunder reserves 57-23, the OKCs starters combined for 109 points with all five in double-digits.
"Tough environment, great team," Westbrook said of Toronto. "You’ve got to keep your composure throughout it all, and that’s what this game was all about. When you have a lot of veteran guys on this team, it’s easier to do that and we saw it tonight."
The star guard was money all night with Thunder big man Steven Adams, whose 25 points were two short of a career high. The Kiwi centre did it despite having to go to the locker-room briefly in the third quarter after taking an Ibaka knee to the groin area as the Raptors forward drove the basket.
The Raptors had matched the franchise record with their 11th straight win, a 122-155 overtime triumph over Dallas on Friday night. Toronto set the mark Jan. 6 to Jan. 20 in 2016.
Toronto’s last loss came Feb. 23 when it dropped a 122-119 overtime decision to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raps had won 18 of their last 19 including a franchise-record eight straight on the road.
The Thunder made their first five shots and nine of their first 10. Toronto kept pace for most of the quarter, thanks to six three-pointers, but trailed 40-34 going into the second. OKC made 18-of-24 shots in the opening quarter while Toronto was good on 13-of-21.
An 11-3 run by the second unit gave Toronto the lead in the second quarter. And a pair of Lucas Nogueira dunks brought the crowd on its feet. The big Brazilian known as Bebe had five points and five rebounds in an eventful six-minute appearance during the quarter.
Toronto led by 10 but OKC, with its starters back on the floor, clawed its way back to lead 66-64 at the half.
Toronto led 98-97 after a back-and-forward third quarter, setting the stage for a dramatic fourth that saw the teams trade leads. A thundering dunk by Raptors birthday boy C.J. Miles raised the roof early in the quarter, as did a Pascal Siakam one-hander.
Sunday’s game saw OKC’s Carmelo Anthony pass Reggie Miller (25,279 points) to stand 19th on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Toronto plays Tuesday at Orlando while OKC heads to Boston.