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Quick Reaction

Quick Reaction: Raptors 129, Rockets 113

High octane, high anxiety.

Toronto 129 Final
Box Score
113 Houston

C+
S. Ibaka25 MIN, 5 PTS, 5 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 2-5 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-2 FT, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 18 +/-

His early foul trouble may have actually been a positive, separating the Ibaka-JV pairing that wasn’t a great matchup with Houston. Ibaka looked more comfortable at the five here, though as always, the rebounding needs to come up. Despite the gargantuan plus-minus, he wasn’t especially good until late.

A+
O. Anunoby30 MIN, 16 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 6-8 FG, 3-4 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 22 +/-

Has now guarded Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Al Horford, and James Harden in the last week. Was an immense positive whenever he was on the floor, even if Harden got him with a couple of veteran tricks. He hit threes with confidence, put the ball on the floor, threw a pass over the top in the pick-and-roll, and was an absolute madman poking balls free and scrambling to recover them. Casey doesn’t like guys to lose jobs from injury, but this was a heck of an argument for a shakeup.

B+
J. Valanciunas17 MIN, 12 PTS, 7 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 5-9 FG, 0-0 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -1 +/-

Was a tough fit for this matchup when Capela wasn’t on the floor but probably still could have played a bit more given the team’s rebounding issues and need for solid screens. The Raptors used him well when he was out there, feeding him far more regularly than he’s accustomed to, and he rewarded them with a few nice buckets and a solid roll-kick to a corner shooter.

A
K. Lowry37 MIN, 19 PTS, 5 REB, 10 AST, 1 STL, 4-12 FG, 2-7 3FG, 9-10 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 14 +/-

A little passive early on as he felt out the game, then had a terrific stretch of dominance with the bench groups, where he clearly found a rhythm. He’s now gone 17-18-19-19 in his last four games, averaging 7.5 assists and hitting 38 percent of his threes in that stretch. He’s getting there.

A
D. DeRozan34 MIN, 27 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 7-15 FG, 0-3 3FG, 13-16 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 7 +/-

The first quarter was one of his best all season, a perfect mix of scoring and playmaking with a nice additional focus on the glass. He wasn’t good defensively by any means, but he stuck to the system on offense, picked his spots against a team with a lot of options to try to slow him down, and lived at the line. Thankful he ended up with a plus-7, despite playing almost entirely opposite Harden’s minutes, so there’s not the usual referendum on his play vs. on-off impact in this one.

A
D. Wright26 MIN, 14 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 5-5 FG, 0-0 3FG, 4-5 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 18 +/-

Nice to see him look for his own shot a little bit here and use his funky driving ability to throw the Rockets off some. Had a brief stint with turnover issues but was otherwise decisive and aggressive in the right ways. Was also a pest defensively, even taking an elbow from Gordon for the cause.

C+
P. Siakam19 MIN, 2 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -7 +/-

Good perimeter activity against tough checks in Gordon and Harden, though the latter proved to be a little difficult with weak help behind him. Helped force a turnover on Harden, at least, and leaked out in transition to stretch things vertically. The one rebound hurts, a team-wide issue without much Valanciunas.

A
C. Miles17 MIN, 19 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 6-12 FG, 6-9 3FG, 1-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -7 +/-

Just give him all the shots. Miles’ complete lack of conscience is perfect for this team’s second unit, and playing a bit more with the starters early on here got him into a groove. Few players have the kind of off-ball gravity he provides, and there’s a good case his roll should expand, even with a minus-7 mark here.

B+
F. VanVleet16 MIN, 8 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 2-6 FG, 2-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 7 +/-

Continues to make smart decisions on defense that help overcome the size issues the Raptors introduce with the multi-guard looks. Dished a few nice passes, digged in against a Capela roll for a nice steal, and saved a possession late. Remains a strong +/- more or less night in, night out, though Casey probably rolled with him a tad too long early in the fourth (that’s not on him).

B+
J. Poeltl14 MIN, 7 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 3-4 FG, 0-0 3FG, 1-1 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 5 +/-

When was the last time he had what you’d call a BAD game? That’s the argument for Bebe being the name to fall out of the rotation, and Poeltl provided some solid, if unspectacular minutes here. Had a great contest backpedaling against Mbah a Moute, showed good composure catching in the paint on a key broken play, and helped well on drives outside of two early fouls.

D
L. Nogueira5 MIN, 0 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-

Showed some nice effort on the offensive glass that flustered Houston, but otherwise it was low on high points. Struggled in help defense at the rim, allowed Tarik Black to work, and appears to have been jumped by Poeltl in the rotation for the second time in the last few games.

Inc
A. McKinnie2 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-

The plus-minus god continues his team-best on-off run with a plus-2 in barely a minute of run.

A
Dwane Casey

Sticking with an 11-man rotation continues to prove tough, but when Casey trimmed it to 10, they found a nice groove. Rolling three PGs was a nice look, as were some OG-Siakam-Ibaka minutes. The closing group largely made sense, too, and even without the benefit of a great screen-setter, the Raptors closed one out largely looking like the “new” offense they’d promised. Had his team attacking an exhausted Harden with five fouls late, too. Good work here.

Things We Saw

  1. When the Raptors led by four in the second quarter, it was Houston’s biggest deficit since last Thursday. That tells you just how well the Rockets, entering on a six-game winning streak and with the best record in the West, have been playing of late. There would have been no excuses, of course, but a reminder that this NO-@BOS-@HOU-@NO stretch is a tough one, and the Raptors will be happy with a 2-2 record. This is a signature victory, particularly for the offense, even with Houston getting back into it. Things get substantially easier from there, with the league’s easiest schedule by SOS and travel over the final 68 games.
  2. Can we please see more of Kyle Lowry back with the bench to start second and fourth quarters? At least a bit? I know there’s been a big focus on limiting Lowry’s minutes, and that’s smart and important, but he’s played a much larger percentage of his minutes with DeMar DeRozan than in recent years, and even with the bench killing it, it’d be great to see more Lowry-and-bench. It could help get Lowry into a better rhythm, and the team will eventually need to know what group works best in those spots.
  3. The Raptors did a good job of dictating their pace with the starting lineups. Houston isn’t a breakneck team, ranking in the middle of the pack for pace, but it was clear the Raptors wanted to slow things down for Houston when James Harden was on the floor. Toronto still pushed with bench-heavy groups to take advantage of their speed there and did their best to keep up in terms of 3-point shooting, and a 100.9 pace, while a little high overall, felt to the Raptors’ favor. Good balance.
  4. The Raptors set a franchise record for points in a second quarter with 45 and scored 76 in the first half on a 150.3 O-Rating, which is obscene. They tallied 18 assists, a half-assist off their 2016-17 average for entire games. They’d finish with 129 points – three off the franchise record for a regulation game – 28 assists, and a 127.8 O-Rating.
  5. OG Anunoby was drafted 23rd overall under five months ago. This is a historical fact I have to go back and verify every game, because it seems impossible.
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