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Raptors beat injury-depleted Thunder

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TORONTO – Injuries are part of the game, but the situation is becoming ridiculous for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The injury-depleted Thunder started their 100-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday with eight players. They finished with six after forward Perry Jones left the game early in the second half with a right knee contusion and guard Sebastian Telfair was ejected for a flagrant foul with 1:57 left in the game.

“I keep saying that’s part of it, you’ve still got to play,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We have guys playing in different spots. That’s the way were are right now. I’m really encouraged by the guys. It’s a bad situation. I loved the guys’ effort.”

Guard DeMar DeRozan scored 16 points and forward Patrick Patterson added 14 for the Raptors

Thunder forward Serge Ibaka led all scorers with 25 points despite picking up his fifth foul during the fourth quarter. Three Thunder players had five fouls.

“We did all we could do, we gave it our best playing with seven and then six players against a good team,” Ibaka said. “I like when I play good and the team wins. We’re playing with three bigs on the court. It was tough for anybody. We were there, we were fighting.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey was not pleased with the way his team played defensively, particularly in the first half.

“It’s not going to get it done,” he said. “I told them until my eyes turned red and they’ve had that speech a lot. So, until it sinks in, it’s going to be a roller-coaster. Until we decided to do it collectively, it’s going to be the same old song over and over again.”

Guard Lou Williams and forward Tyler Hansbrough each chipped in with 12 points for the Raptors, while guard Greivis Vasquez had 10.

Guard Lance Thomas added 14 points for the Thunder, with guard Reggie Jackson scoring 13. Forward Nick Collison and Telfair had 11 apiece while center Steven Adams contributed 10.

The Thunder (1-4) have been playing without three injured players: forward Kevin Durant and guards Russell Westbrook and Anthony Morrow.

To make matters worse, they lost Jones in the third quarter and he will be evaluated on Wednesday. Jones scored four points in nearly18 minutes.

“Nightmare,” Jackson said. “Almost laugh about it, pray everybody stays healthy, everybody gets healthy. It seems like a nightmare and I’m ready to wake up at any given time.”

The Thunder started well, opening up a seven-point lead after the first quarter and clinging to a one-point halftime lead before the Raptors took a seven-point lead during the third quarter. But when Jackson made a driving layup to end the third quarter, the Raptors’ lead was only 73-70.

The Raptors (3-1), who played the second half without center Jonas Valanciunas, stretched the lead to 10 points with 10:21 to play in the game.

The lead was 90-76 with 6:33 to play when Williams made a layup.

“[Casey] gave it to us at half time,” Patterson said. “Just not accepting the way that we played in the first half and just getting on us in the locker room and just telling us it’s not playoff basketball. … Guys just stepped it up in the second half.”

Valanciunas left the game during the first quarter with a right hand injury. X-rays were negative and the center returned during the second quarter only to take an elbow to the nose just before the end of the first half that put him out for the game. He finished with six points and two rebounds in nearly 13 minutes.

The Thunder shot 71.6 per cent (12-for-17) from the field to take a 30-23 lead after the first quarter. Ibaka led the way with seven points, going 3-for-3 including a 3-pointer.

Led by Ibaka’s 14 points, the Thunder led 52-51 at the half. DeRozan led the Raptors with 10 first-half points.

“Well, you know what, it was ugly, ugly, ugly,” DeRozan said. “One of the ugliest wins in Toronto, but we’ll take it. …We have to get better and we will.”

NOTES: The Thunder were down to three reserves on Tuesday after G Andre Roberson (sprained left foot) did not play after being injured during Monday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The mounting Thunder injury list left them with three players on the bench for the game against the Raptors: G Sebastian Telfair, C Kendrick Perkins and F Nick Collison. F Perry Jones left Tuesday’s game with an injury…. Raptors F Amir Johnson (sore left ankle) did not play Tuesday and will not play Wednesday when Toronto visits Boston to play the Celtics. Johnson also missed Sunday’s loss to the Heat in Miami. … The Thunder are home to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. … After playing in Boston on Wednesday, the Raptors are home to the Washington Wizards on Friday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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