Fan Duel Toronto Raptors


Raptors beaten down by Rockets despite getting reinforcements

Toronto rolled out the red carpet down the lane and Houston made them pay.

The Toronto Raptors (17-31) lost 136-105, in wire-to-wire fashion, to the Houston Rockets (23-25) on Friday night.

Wire-to-wire might undersell just how fast, and how severely, things got out of hand for Toronto. The biggest lead they held in this game was when it was 7-4 at the 8:33 mark of the first quarter after Scottie Barnes drained a triple.

They relinquished that three-point edge less than 20 seconds later and from that point on the Raptors did not get back the lead or even tie things up once.

Barnes who dropped 28 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, was the lone bright spot. It felt like he took getting snubbed from an all-star selection personally, as he was relentless in this one.

He was the only one applying any pressure at the rim on either end of the floor – getting downhill on offence, trying to deter shots on defence.

What felt most impressive was his ability to read and dissect what the team needed. Toronto seriously lacked presence in the paint on Friday, so, Barnes tried to rectify that. He only took three shots from deep and made an intentional effort to play under the basket, or at least in the paint, as much as possible.

When he did touch the paint and didn’t create a solid scoring opportunity, he usually tried to kick it out for a good look.

The people he was passing to just weren’t knocking them down tonight. Only three other Raptors shot better than Barnes (Poeltl, Nwora, and Young), all of whom took five or fewer shots.

Speaking of the paint, the Raptors allowed a season-high 84 points in the paint and were minus-30 on the night. The most points they’ve given up inside since Feb. 27, 2009 (per @keerthikau). That basically explains why they didn’t lead outside of the first three minutes of this game.

A lot of that damage was done by the duo of Alperen Sengun and Cam Whitmore (off the bench), who dropped 24 and 25 points respectively. The pair combined to shoot 20-31 from the field, and only took a collective nine shots from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, former Raptor Fred VanVleet faced his old team for the first time since signing with the Rockets in the offseason, and had himself a typical quiet, yet impactful FVV game. He finished with 10 points, six assists, and was plus-13 through 25 minutes.

With the returns of Immanuel Quickley and Jakob Poeltl, it was meant to be a night where the Raptors got a welcomed jolt of energy. Instead, it was as opposite to “energy” as it could’ve got, as Toronto let Houston go full layup line mode down the lane.

It’s hard to sum up just how easy things were at the rim for the Rockets, but a good way to put it, even 37-year-old Jeff Green was able to blow by the Raptors’ defence at one point and slam down a dunk.

Quickley, after missing three games, started relatively slow. He tried to work with Poeltl in the pick-and-roll, patiently choosing when to find his own looks, but eventually hit a groove later in the game. He finished with 25 points and six assists, drilling a season-high six triples en route.

Meanwhile, Poeltl had a less impactful game in his return after nearly a month. Whether it was rust, or being outmatched by the bouncy, youthful athleticism of Houston, he seemed out of place. The Austrian played just 20 minutes before fouling out and finished with just six points and five rebounds.

Toronto had the second-worst rebounding rate without Poeltl, and the hope was his return would help that if nothing else. Spoiler alert, it didn’t.

Sengun, along with his scoring production, also led the way on the glass as he grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as Toronto finished minus-12 on the glass.

Lastly, the Raptors finished with just 19 assists and snapped their streak of 25 or more dimes in a contest. They had reached 30 consecutive games, tying the all-time record, but ultimately fell one game short of owning the record all on their own…it was that kind of night.

As things stand, Toronto is 1-2 midway through a six-game road trip and will return to action on Sunday when they take on Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (and Luguentz Dort) and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

For added stakes, the Thunder need to win, for head coach Mark Daigneault to have any shot at coaching the Western Conference all-stars in Indiana, two weeks from now.

So if you were hoping OKC might take it easy against the struggling Raptors…think again.