Rockets' 129-122 victory over Raptors spoils great nights by DeRozan, Carroll

The Canadian Press
Published on January 8, 2017

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) scores as Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) defends and guard Kyle Lowry (7) and forward Patrick Patterson (54) look on during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, January 8, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO — James Harden scored 40 points to lift Houston to a 129-122 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, for the Rockets' eighth consecutive win.

The Raptors' loss spoiled excellent performances from DeMar DeRozan, who had 36 points, and DeMarre Carroll, who had a career-high six three pointers en route to 26 points.

Kyle Lowry chipped in with 12 points, while Norman Powell and Cory Joseph had 10 apiece for the Raptors (24-13), who were playing just 22 hours after a 123-118 loss in Chicago.

Montrezl Harrell had 28 points on 12-for-13 shooting for Houston (30-9).

DeRozan's 30-plus performance was his 18th this season — already a career high in a season that's not yet even half over.

Carroll's night was particularly outstanding considering his minutes had been limited while he rebounded from injuries, and until recently, when the team was playing on consecutive nights, would have to sit one of two games. Carroll had played in Chicago.

The Rockets rolled to their seventh straight win on Friday night in Orlando, and had won 18 of their previous 20 games before tipping off against the Raptors. And they'd been resting in Toronto on Saturday night while the Raptors were scrapping in Chicago.

But Toronto, playing its first of four in a row at home after playing eight of its previous 10 on the road, showed no signs of fatigue in racing to a 13-point lead. The Raptors would maintain a double-digit lead for much of the second and third quarters, and took a 99-95 lead into the fourth quarter.

Then the figurative wheels fell off. The Rockets opened the quarter with a devastating 15-0 run to take a 12-point lead.

Four consecutive buckets from DeRozan brought the Raptors back to within five points with 5:39 to play, and breathed some like back into the Air Canada Centre crowd that included Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez. But the Rockets seemingly couldn't miss, and were back up by 10 after five quick points from Harden.

A Harden three-pointer with 1:08 to play put the Rockets up by 11, and sent Raptors fans pouring out the exits.    

The Rockets, who lead the league in three-point attempts, shot 11-for-38 from long range, while the Raptors hit 11 of their 25 three-point attempts. The Raptors shot 54 per cent on the night, while the Rockets shot 52 per cent.

The Raptors had beaten the Rockets 115-102 on Nov. 23 for their first victory in Houston since 2007.

Toronto took control early, going up by 13 points on a layup by Lucas Nogueira with 30 seconds left in the first quarter. The Rockets chucked up eight three-point misses before Eric Gordon finally hit one with 10 seconds left in the first quarter, cutting Toronto's lead to 37-27 heading into the second.

The Raptors led by 12 late in the second but the Rockets ended the quarter with a 12-2 run, punctuated by a three-point running jumper at the buzzer that sent the Raptors into halftime leading just 63-61.

The Raptors led by 13 points several times in the third, but the Rockets ended the frame on a 13-6 run, capped by another buzzer-beating three, from Harden.

Toronto hosts the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, then caps this homestand on Sunday against the New York Knicks.



Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press