Quick Reaction: Rockets 115, Raptors 117

Clinched fifth place!

Box Score

P. Siakam40 MIN, 29 PTS, 12 REB, 7 AST, 3 STL, 12-24 FG, 0-2 3FG, 5-6 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, +11 +/-

Bullied. Flat out, he was sooo much better than anyone else on the floor. Didn’t settle at all, even for his favourite 6-to-8 foot floaters, just focusing on business-time layups. Unfortunately, they didn’t go in early, but that didn’t deter him. He got hacked a LOT without drawing free throws, complained to the refs, and then got all the calls he wanted the rest of the way (lol). Midway through the second, he started settling for those little floaters, and lo and behold, he started scoring again. Counter-intuitive, but he is who he is. When the Raptors went down big, Siakam just started scoring on every possession with ease. Even had some chasedown blocks!

S. Barnes34 MIN, 16 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 7-13 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, +8 +/-

Not sharp for three quarters. He did an excellent job getting to his spots, but he didn’t do anything with those advantages. He turned sloppier after early misses, throwing uncharacteristic loopy passes. Then he just started knocking in jumpers, tossing in dunks and layups, and forcing turnovers in the fourth. Damn. Talk about zero to hero.

K. Birch27 MIN, 8 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 4-7 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, +22 +/-

Smashed the offensive glass, and played defensive quietly but positionally. Excellent. Good help when Houston’s ball-handlers had their heads turned, forcing a few turnovers. Offensively, he was as sharp as he’s been, even handling a little attacking out of the corner and hitting a little fadeaway. He even punched an alley in transition! He had energy and zip even when the rest of the team didn’t, and then he had even more when the rest of the team did.

A. Brooks15 MIN, 2 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 0 STL, 0-3 FG, 0-3 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +3 +/-

Not super visible. Only took 3s and missed the few he attempted. Fairly inactive defensively. Started the game but didn’t play a lot of time, and unfortunately, that was deserved.

G. Trent Jr.38 MIN, 26 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 3 STL, 9-21 FG, 5-8 3FG, 3-3 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +11 +/-

He was the offense for long stretches. His defense changed dramatically when Toronto turned on the jets. Started contesting well, being physical off the ball, and tossing in a few deflections. Played his usual gunner role on the offensive end, and even though he was missing in the first half he didn’t change his process at all, which you have to appreciate. Had a drive and dunk in the fourth! Some big, big triples, too. Most importantly, scored the go-ahead layup with 20 seconds left.

T. Young24 MIN, 14 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 6-8 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, +21 +/-

Whew, first possession was a Siakam lookalike isolation into postup spinaroo hook. Houston left him alone, so he just took it to the rim. Free throws, layups. Great stuff. Nifty alley-oop pass in transition. Monster tip in with 2 minutes left, followed up by a wild finger roll. He really settled the ship throughout the game — no Young, no win tonight.

C. Boucher20 MIN, 6 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 1-5 FG, 0-3 3FG, 4-4 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -18 +/-

The Raps used Boucher as a hub on the offensive end against Houston’s zone, and even though it didn’t result in points, he made solid reads for open shots for his teammates; can’t fault him for the results. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stabilize anything on either end.

P. Achiuwa12 MIN, 8 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 2-5 FG, 1-3 3FG, 3-3 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -28 +/-

Up-and-down start on the defensive end. Followed a big block with a lack of contest immediately after. Found himself out of positioning here and there, and couldn’t clean up the rest of his teammates’ mistakes. Obviously, everyone was making defensive errors, but as the best rim protector, it often fell to him to fix that. He couldn’t. Drifted offensively. Even when the Raps fought back into the game, his game just stayed loose in the second half.

Y. Watanabe12 MIN, 3 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 2 STL, 1-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +12 +/-

Freed! Immediately tossed in an and-1 in transition, and his smile was wiiiide. Also, Nav picked him up off the ground! But then had a dunk blocked and was very frustrated with himself. The duality. Still, cut hard, played hard, and did his usual Yuta thing. Had a really, really bad defensive breakdown with a minute left giving up a backdoor cut.

J. Champagnie7 MIN, 3 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 1-2 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -8 +/-

Hit a corner triple! His stroke is really coming along — G-League minutes have done wonders for him.

M. Flynn11 MIN, 2 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 1-5 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -24 +/-

You wonder what the coaches are asking of him when he gets in the game. He found so much success during a very brief stretch by running the pick and roll, and now that he’s finally healthy and even getting minutes, he didn’t run too many pick and rolls. Hard to fathom. He hit the open man on offense but did little else.

Nick Nurse

Toronto’s lackadaisical start was certainly logical, and Nurse did a lot to try to break them out of their funk; the Raptors tossed in a full-court press before the first quarter was even done. He switched up the rotation, giving extra minutes to hungry youngsters like Champagnie. He finally found solidity with Thad Young in the second quarter and rode the wave, giving the guys who were fighting (Birch, Thad, Pasca) as much run as they could handle. Nurse was gunning for a win.

Things We Saw

  1. Toronto hasn’t been a bad defensive rebounding team for a month or more! Well, that came back to bite them against Houston. Little boxing out, little reading of the ball in flight, and little hustle for loose bounces. When that attention to detail cleaned up, the Raptors stopped giving up so many easy buckets, started scoring themselves in transition, and finally righted the ship. It starts small though.
  2. Never have the results of a game mattered less to the Toronto Raptors. You couldn’t tell by the way they played (for short stretches), which I LOVED.
  3. The Raptors tried for a stretch of about six minutes in the second quarter and then a stretch of maybe eight minutes in the fourth. I would complain if the game meant anything, but it didn’t, so it was really just impressive that that was enough. Siakam rowed the boat until the defensive filled the sails and blasted off into space (man, that metaphor fell apart. Just like the Rockets).
  4. Yuta goes from not playing to closing. Brooks goes from not playing to starting. Lol. There’s a lot going on to factor in, obviously, but things can turn on a dime in Toronto.


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