Rockets Leading Scorers: Jalen Green (21), Alperen Sengun (17)
Raptors Leading Scorers: Fred VanVleet (32), OG Anunoby (27)
I remember last year on Twitter Spaces, Rockets play by play commentator Ryan Hollins referenced that rebuilding teams go through several stages of development. Hollins mentioned that the goal coming into the 2022-23 season was for the Houston Rockets to go “From the Hunted to the Hunters”.
Despite the 109-116 loss to the Toronto Raptors, fans who tuned in definitely saw signs of the goal becoming reality.
Going in this game, The Raptors are a top five defense in the league, outside of a 6’1” Fred VanVleet and 6’5” Gary Trent Jr., their roster features multiple 6’7” multi-positional players. The Rockets still got off to a blistering first quarter start in which they put up 37 points on 70 percent field goal shooting on 11 assists.
Their play was influenced from Stephen Silas prioritizing touches to Alperen Sengun whose offensive gravity in the post allowed him to create open passing lanes whenever the defense collapsed.
The Rockets eventually slowed down and the Raptors caught up at halftime with staunch defense and poise. Which was led by OG Anunoby, who had 20 points at the break due to Houston’s inability to defend him, as he shot 57 percent from downtown on 7 attempts.
Towards the ending moments of the game, the Rockets and Raptors were engaged in a dogfight in which we saw some competitive, yet ugly basketball. Fred VanVleet erupted scoring 12 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, as the Raptors became victors when the bell rang. However, I don’t think fans were upset by the loss.
There’s no secret Rockets fans would’ve appreciated their first winning streak of the season. Especially, when you consider this was there third game in three days. Toronto’s star forward Pascal Siakam was also out with adductor strain injury. The recipe for a win was right there.
Nonetheless, this was a good loss and confidence builder for a young team that is in the midst of learning how to win.