So with all this talk about improved defense for the Houston Rockets, they decided to instead show us the Rockets of old in allowing for the Toronto Raptors to put up a season high in points scored in what finished as a 129-113 defeat for the good guys that broke Houston’s six-game win streak.
Houston also allowed Toronto to shoot 51 percent from the field, and the Raptors also had a season-high 76 points in the first half in what was probably the worst overall team effort on defense this season.
James Harden led the way for the Rockets with 38 points, 6 rebounds, and 11 assists, but he shot just 8-25 from the field and 3-11 from deep. The Beard’s backcourt mate Eric Gordon also struggled with his shot, going going just 3-12 from the field and 0-7 from beyond the arc, finishing with 12 points. The Rockets shot just 41 percent from the field and were only 12-39 from three-point land. Combine that poor shooting with that poor defense, and voila... this is your result.
The Rockets also battled some inexplicable officiating that saw P.J. Tucker get tossed in the third quarter for getting two technicals, and we also saw head coach Mike D’Antoni arguing with the officials quite vocally. All that said, Harden still shot 19 free throws on the night — going a perfect 19 for 19 — and it wasn’t the refs that caused this loss for the Rockets.
They actually battled back from as much as a 20-point deficit to get within 108-103 with 7 minutes left to go in the game when The Beard went to the bench with five fouls. The Rockets would get no closer. This was definitely a moment when the Rockets could have used another future Hall-of-Fame point guard to handle the rock while Harden sat. Thankfully for them, there’s one on the way in just a few days’ time.
In addition to Harden, the Rockets were also led by Trevor Ariza, who finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds while shooting 5-8 from deep, and they also got 11 and 11 from Clint Capela, and 13 points and 7 boards from Tarik Black in a strong performance off the bench.
The Rockets’ bench was outscored 50-23 overall tonight however, building yet more of a case for D’Antoni to open up the rotation on nights like these. Troy Williams, anyone?
The Raptors had a pretty balanced scoring attack to overcome the Rockets, as they were led by DeMar DeRozan, who had 27 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, and Kyle Lowry, who had 19 points and 10 assists. They also got 19 from C.J. Miles, who was shooting hot, 16 from OG Anunoby, 14 from Delon Wright, and 12 from Jonas Valanciunas.
The Rockets fall to 11-4 with the defeat and are now a half game back of the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference standings. They’ll be back on the court Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns, and it’s rumored that Paul will be making his long-awaited return. And not a moment too soon.