The Oklahoma City Thunder were in it most of the game, but eventually the Toronto Raptors wore down the Thunder's seven remaining players - after Perry Jones went out with a knee contusion in the 3rd quarter - as they survived a gutsy Reggie Jackson performance (13 points, four rebounds and 14 assists) and won 100-88.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
I cringed every time anyone went near the basket. Perry Jones left the game after colliding knee-to-knee with Patrick Patterson. Reggie Jackson was repeatedly on the floor grimacing in pain or getting attended to by trainers. At this point, I'm going to start taping my ankles and wearing a knee brace while I watch these games. It's hard to imagine things getting much worse (that's a positive, I guess?), but man, the Thunder can't afford any more injuries. I'm just worried the basketball gods may go after the fans if they have no more players to go after. Be aware.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder lost?
The Thunder just couldn't compete for a full 48 minutes with the hand they were dealt. They ended the game with five healthy players (Sebastian Telfair was ejected for flagrant foul late) and a gimpy Jackson. Couple that with playing a good Toronto team on the road and a loss was inevitable.
Thunder Wonder: Reggie Jackson
Everyone (including myself) was all over Jackson after a so-so performance last night in his season opener, but Jackson quieted a lot of people tonight. He was a soldier for the Thunder tonight and put to rest any notion that he thinks he is above the team. He was clearly hurting towards the end of the game, but kept playing hard, diving on the floor and encouraging teammates. It was great to see, especially after last night. He finished with 13 points and 14 assists.
Most Impressive: Serge Ibaka
Ibaka was a monster tonight (25 points and 11 rebounds on 11-of-14 shooting) and continued to show his ever expanding offensive skill set. Over the last couple years we have been accustomed to Ibaka catch-and-shoot mid-range shots, the occasional corner 3 and put backs. That's all he had in his arsenal.
Tonight, he dazzled us with 3s from all angels of the arc, scored off post moves and put the ball on the floor. If there are any positives from Durant and Westbrook being out it is that Ibaka is continuing to develop as an offensive player and could make them even more dominant when everyone is healthy.
Thunder Blunder: Training Staff?
I'm not putting the blame on anyone about the Thunder's injury issues to start the season. For all we know, it could just be a freaky start to the season. Injuries happen. However, the previous two seasons have been rattled by injuries and now this season is off to a catastrophic start in terms of injuries. At some point, them happening at an alarming rate has to be a concern. Something is not right internally if they continue to haunt this team. Just food for thought.
Next game: Nov. 7 vs. Memphis Grizzles, 7 PM CDT