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

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.

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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