The Rockets demonstrated their new-found scoring prowess last night, demolishing the Raps by 16, a result which actually flatters the visitors. Houston put up 131 points in blowing out the Knicks in Manhattan, & continued their outburst against the hapless, confused Raptors defence. The Raps’ starters were pouring in the points as well, so a 10-point halftime deficit did not seem insurmountable. However, the Rox put the game away with a 38-point Q3, & it was garbage time.
The Raps seemed on the edge of a comeback several times, but self-inflicted wounds in the form of lazy passes were picked off & converted by the speedy Rox. Both teams shot well, although the Raps had few second-chance points. Omer Asik grabbed 15 defensive rebounds (plus 3 the other way), which was more than any Rap had in total. James Harden was the biggest Houston assassin, dishing out 12 assists, & draining 4 3-balls on his way to 24 points. Point Guard Jeremy Lin was constantly exploiting the Raps’ non-existent interior defence by driving straight down the paint to score or dish. He had 16 points & 10 assists. I’m sure Lin would be thrilled to know that I am now officially “sold” on him – he’s a player, not a flash in the pan. As for his teammates, I’m surprised to see how many minutes the starters logged – none played fewer than 31+, & Harden & the impressive Chandler Parsons were barely off the floor. I suspect the coaches don’t trust their second unit to maintain a lead.
The only positive for the Raps was the fine play of rookie Terrence Ross, who showed several highlight-reel-class slams on his way to 19 points, the highest total of his career. Kyle Lowry’s return to Houston was not sweet revenge, as he could manage only 7 points & 5 assists. Bargnani & Calderon both rediscovered their shooting strokes, but were frequent spectators defensively. Jonas Valanciunas received visceral proof that he will need to add bulk to his upper body. He was pushed around by the beefy Asik. The pitiful play from the Small Forward position continued, with neither McGuire nor Kleiza able to muster a point. John Lucas’ shooting is still MIA, with one bucket on 5 shots.
If the Raptors don’t figure out their defence in a hurry, tonight’s game in Memphis against the very strong Grizzlies could get nasty.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.