Good road win
The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets bounce back from bad loss with solid victory over Raptors 119-109
Coming off a brutal and embarrassing double-overtime loss in San Antonio two nights before, the Rockets were in need of a statement victory. The 15-5 Raptors provided just that opportunity Thursday night in Toronto and head coach Nick Nurse made his team's defensive intentions clear before the game.
To his credit, he wasn't bluffing. Nurse stuck to his word and the Raptors began doubling James Harden at mid-court. Harden would see this insane defense the entire game and as a result, stayed deferential and only scored 6 points at halftime. The Rockets would go on and a ton of open looks from beyond the three-point line as a result.
Danuel House played well in his return game (16 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the field and 3 of 8 shooting from three-point range), but was still really sick and head coach Mike D'Antoni elected to bring him off the bench as a result
The Rockets were pretty sloppy with the basketball (22 turnovers), but they rebounded the basketball well (out-rebounded Toronto 54-45), moved the ball, and got open looks and that will end up being the story for this game (22 of 55 from three-point range).
Star of the game: With the constant double teams thrown at James Harden in this game, there was room for everybody on the roster to get there's, specifically Ben McLemore. McLemore had his best game of the season for the Rockets, scoring 28 points on 8 of 17 three-point shooting. It's getting tougher and tougher to ignore the wide-gap between McLemore's performances as a starter versus as a bench player and he even addressed it after the game.
"Just being out there with the veteran guys like Russ and James and being comfortable and them guys building my confidence at a high level," said McLemore. "Russ does a good job and Harden does a good job as well of letting me play my game."
Honorable mention: Despite the focused coverage against him, James Harden was surprisingly efficient tallying 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals, and 3 assists on 11 shots. Harden let the offense flow through his teammates and it paid off as the 29 of the Rockets 40 field goals were assisted. Effectively, Harden was acting as a vacuum to suck in defenses and get teammates like Ben McLemore, P.J. Tucker, and Danuel House open looks all game (combined for 16-35 from three-point range).
Key moment: The Raptors briefly caught up and took a 86-83 lead over the Rockets in the 3rd quarter, but through ball movement and hot shooting, Houston was able to quash the run. Houston would go on a 11-2 run to close the quarter. Ben McLemore scored or assisted on 8 of these 11 points.
Up next: The Rockets return to Toyota Center on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. to take on the Phoenix Suns.