Quick Reaction: Rockets 119, Raptors 109

10 mins read
HOU Rockets 119 Final
Box Score
109 TOR Raptors

P. Siakam36 MIN, 24 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 3 STL, 9-22 FG, 2-8 3FG, 4-4 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, -2 +/-

Siakam was certainly more aggressive to start tonight than on Tuesday against Miami, often using screens to target Harden in isolation or the post. Capela got him once or twice at the rim but he scored efficiently and often. Two fouls in the first quarter (and a tech) slowed him slightly, but he also exited the first frame with 14 points which shows his assertiveness (finished half with 18).

Clearly was getting frustrated on what he thought were missed calls and started chirping at the officials, taking him out of his rhythm on offense. Felt like he took more of a backseat as the night went on and the Raptors relied more on Lowry and Fred.

He needs to demand the ball.

O. Anunoby24 MIN, 9 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 4-11 FG, 1-7 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 6 +/-

The good news is that OG did an excellent job in helping slow Harden, but the bad news is that his offensive limitations meant that Houston could often hide Harden on him defensively. OG’s shot wasn’t falling early, going 1-for-4 from deep in the first half.

For the second game in a row Nurse opted to close with Norm rather than OG. It wasn’t his night, but he still should have gotten the call above Norm.

M. Gasol29 MIN, 5 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL, 2-4 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 2 TO, 10 +/-

Gasol absolutely crushed Ben McLemore on a screen at the start of the game, crumpling him to the ground for the entire possession, an underrated skill he brings and an absolute need in creating space for his teammates. Forced a good number of misses near the rim with his length, but too many of Houston’s three pointers were at least helped in part by Marc staying closer to the rim.

F. VanVleet38 MIN, 20 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL, 7-13 FG, 3-7 3FG, 3-4 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -2 +/-

A lot was asked for Fred defensively tonight, in throwing consistent doubles on Harden while not losing his man (often Westbrook). At the end of the first half he drew an offensive foul from Westbrook near halfcourt) to get final shot, and he snuck a beautiful floater from the baseline off the inbounds.

He is easily one of the Raptors best players, but it sometimes feels like they need too much for him in these big games.

K. Lowry42 MIN, 19 PTS, 5 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 5-8 FG, 3-5 3FG, 6-6 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, -7 +/-

First shot of the night was in final minute of first quarter and he drained the straight away 3. Still finding his way overall as he comes back from injury and it was nice to see a few shots drop after a career worst shooting night on Tuesday.

I missed Lowry pushing for the 2-for-1 opportunities and hunting for continuation despite never getting the call. The second half we saw that and more. Lowry carved up the Rockets to help Toronto to its first lead of the game in the third. He got into the paint, drew fouls, found the open man, and hit big shots. It was a work of art.

N. Powell25 MIN, 14 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 4-8 FG, 0-2 3FG, 6-8 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -14 +/-

Some very impressive drives from Norm tonight, whether finishes in traffic around the bucket (something he struggles with) or dropping it off to the dunker spot for a better shot. While his doubles on Harden were excellent, he was often slow back in transition and fouled Harden with 1.9 seconds left on the shot clock to end poorly what had been an excellent defensive stand at the end of the third.

As is the tale too often with Norm it seemed like for every positive there was a negative. Perhaps not that bad, but when he makes a mistake he really makes a mistake.

S. Ibaka17 MIN, 10 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 4-10 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -19 +/-

Serge and Lowry have such a natural chemistry. He knows when to pop and when to role, and the exact angle to give Lowry a thread of space to get the ball through. It’s an art form. While he wasn’t great at challenging shots, his offensive rebounding to earn extra possessions was big.

Threw down the dunk of the game 30 seconds into the fourth quarter off a pocket pass form Lowry. It was violent.

He’s a nice release valve in the midrange, but the Raptors needed more from him defensively.

T. Davis14 MIN, 6 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-6 FG, 2-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -13 +/-

This dude is not scared. He’s ready for a quick decision when the ball gets to him and knows his defensive rotations. His first bucket was off a beautiful swing around the arc and he nailed the 3 from the top of the break. He also recovered to chase down a Danuel House corner 3 for the block.

Nurse even gave Davis the chance to guard Westbrook to begin the fourth quarter, a big sign of trust for the rookie.

R. Hollis-Jefferson11 MIN, 2 PTS, 5 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-6 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -4 +/-

I get tired watching RHJ. The dude never stops moving. It’s not always productive movement, but there is a chaos to the way he plays that can help or hinder a team. More often than not this season and tonight it was positive. Created 3 or 4 opportunities at the rim in 10 seconds during a fourth quarter run.

C. Boucher3 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -5 +/-

Got 3 minutes of first half run which was encouraging for his role moving forward, but didn’t contribute to anything and finished a -5 during that stretch.

Nick Nurse

Nurse encouraged the Raptors to care very little about Russell Westbrook and doubled/trapped Harden on the majority of possessions. It worked so well that Harden had just one shot in the entire first quarter, and no free throws. That’s almost a miracle with the streak Harden is on.

While the strategy clearly worked on Harden the Rockets supplementary pieces tormented the Raptors as House, Tucker, and McLemore lit it up from deep. As the Rockets stormed back in the fourth Toronto failed to get the ball into Siakam’s hands, which feels like a failure.

Things We Saw

  1. James Harden left briefly at the end of the third quarter after some contact under the rim from Ibaka.
  2. Nick Nurse shaving the beard back to a goatee is truly a disappointment, just as it is still disappointing seeing Mike D’Antoni without the moustache.
  3. Masai Ujiri gave a second quarter interview as tonight was Giants of Africa night, telling the impact of Nelson Mandela on his life and on Africa. To make the moment even better, Masai’s parents were standing behind him. Lovely moment.

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