The Houston Rockets once again came out slow tonight against the Toronto Raptors and found themselves trailing by double digits for large chunks of the game, but they rallied behind another James Harden triple double, Montrezl Harrell’s near-perfect shooting and Trevor Ariza’s touch from beyond the arc to outlast the Raptors down the stretch in a 129-122 victory.
The Beard finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks and played some air tight defense in the fourth, both blocking a shot on DeMar DeRozan and drawing a huge charge to spark the Houston comeback and the Rockets’ eighth straight victory.
In addition, Harrell shot a ridiculous 12 13 from the floor for 28 points and 5 rebounds, while Ariza, who finished the game with 17 points, got hot from deep at just the right time, knocking down two clutch triples in the fourth quarter to help the team rebound from 2-16 three-point shooting in the first half and an off night from deep overall. The Rockets shot just 11-38 for the game, but cashed them when they counted most against a tough opponent.
The Raptors were playing their second game in as many nights, but certainly didn’t come out with dead legs, as they shot 57.9 percent from the field through the first three quarters. The back-to-back, along with the pressure of keeping up with the high-powered Houston attack, finally got them in the fourth however, as they shot just 42.9 percent in the period, and the Rockets took full advantage.
Houston began the decisive final period with a 13-0 run to get in the lead, and they never relinquished the advantage for the remainder of the game to draw a split in the season series with the Raptors.
Houston also received 19 points from Eric Gordon, though he shot just 1-9 from beyond the arc, and they also got 6 points and 7 rebounds from Patrick Beverley.
The Raptors were lead by DeRozan’s 36 points, and they also got 26 from DeMarre Carroll, who shot 6-10 from three and, at one point in the second half, had more triples than the entire Houston squad. Kyle Lowry had 12 points, 6 assists and 4 steals, but was thoroughly outplayed by the MVBeard in the meeting of star point guards.
The Rockets now move to 30-9 on the season, which is an incredible win number considering they didn’t notch their 30th win last season until March. They also sit just a single game behind the San Antonio Spurs and only 2 behind the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference standings.
Houston now gets a night off before returning home to battle the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night at the Toyota Center, where they will be looking for their ninth straight win.
What a fun time to be a Rockets fan.