|Raptors try for 12th straight win against rolling Thunder|
TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors will be trying for a franchise-record 12th consecutive win Sunday afternoon but they will have to do it against a motivated Oklahoma City Thunder team.
The Raptors, who lead the Eastern Conference, will be playing a team that is involved in the tight race for playoff spots in the Western Conference.
The Thunder started an 11-game stretch with teams that have records above .500 with a 121-113 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
Oklahoma City is 20-18 this season against opponents with winning records.
The Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat (twice), Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Warriors and the Houston Rockets are next on the Thunder schedule for that stretch.
The Thunder are currently fourth in the West and in a playoff spot and those games will determine if they maintain it.
"The one thing that is positive as it relates to our future, our destiny, where we're going, we're in control of that," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "But we have to play well. We have to take on the competitive challenges that will be in front of us."
The Thunder (42-24) will face the team with the best home record in the NBA in the Raptors, who are 29-5 at the Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors (52-17) needed overtime to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 122-115 Friday to equal the franchise record of 11 straight wins.
"It's cool but I think we are looking at it like we have a bigger goal at hand," said Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who scored 29 points on Friday. "As long as we are playing well and figuring out how to pull through adversities. Every game is not going to be pretty, but as long as we are figuring out how to win and do it the right way, that's all that matters to me."
The Raptors last won 11 games in a row Jan. 6-30, 2016.
A win against the Thunder would also tie the franchise record for home wins in a season at 30.
The Raptors played against the Mavericks without point guard Kyle Lowry, who was given a rest, and guard Norman Powell, who has a sprained left ankle.
Forward OG Anunoby returned to action Friday after missing seven games with a sprained right ankle. He scored four points in 19 minutes against the Mavericks.
The Thunder defeated the Raptors 124-107 on Dec. 27, led by 33 points from Paul George, who went 7-for-10 from 30-point range to tie the club of seven 3-pointers in a game. Russell Westbrook added 30 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds in the game.
The Raptors lost despite a 23-2 run in the first half that gave them a 12-point lead in the second quarter.
Five of Oklahoma City's past seven losses to teams over .500 have come by eight or more points and only one was on the final possession.
Donovan said, however, that the team has played "pretty good basketball" recently with five consecutive wins. Only two of those teams had a winning record.
The schedule gets more difficult.
"For us, this is only gonna prepare us," Thunder guard Corey Brewer said. "In the playoffs, there are no bad teams. If we're gonna make the playoffs, why not go through what we're gonna go through this next 10 games?"
Raptors coach Dwane Casey knows that his team now faces some challenges because of their success.
"Everyone is coming in and giving us their best shot and we're learning to be the hunted instead of the hunter," Casey said after the game on Friday. "It's a different mindset. You got to get the best shot and be focused."