Three takeaways from Toronto Raptors loss to Houston Rockets

Toronto Raptors - OG Anunoby (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - OG Anunoby (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

In one of the most disappointing games of the year, the Toronto Raptors were easily defeated by the Houston Rockets. What are the three takeaways from the embarrassing loss?

A frustrating loss. The Toronto Raptors showed why they can be the best team in the Eastern Conference and why you should be skeptical, all in one night. The Houston Rockets controlled the first quarter, second quarter, and the fourth. Toronto only played well for 10 minutes.

Yet, with less than five minutes remaining, the Raptors had a chance for victory. A couple of dagger James Harden step backs silenced Toronto’s heartbeat, and ultimately, the Raptors lost 107-95.

Who can be blamed for the Raptors loss? There’s plenty to go around. Here are my three big takeaways.

Bench Play

Marc Gasol, -30. Jeremy Lin, -22. OG Anunoby, -30. Norman Powell, -16. Patrick McCaw, -15. That is the +/- of every bench player for the Raptors last night. Put more bluntly, the bench was pathetic.

The lion’s share of the blame can be placed on the backcourt. Jeremy Lin and Patrick McCaw looked like flustered junior high guards when facing defensive pressure. It’s the NBA, defenses shouldn’t be able to drastically push you off your spots when initiating the offense.

The rest of the bench wasn’t much better. Norman Powell shot 2-6 and was called for a couple of dumb fouls. OG Anunoby disappeared throughout the night as he has a tendency to do. Marc Gasol was destroyed defensively by the Rockets pick-and-roll.

The entire unit looked lost and out-of-place. When does Fred VanVleet return again?

P.J. Tucker is a defensive linchpin

Kawhi Leonard finished with 26 points last night so it’s not as if he was completely stifled. However, I’m not sure if anyone in the NBA makes Leonard work for his points more than P.J. Tucker.

Tucker is big, quick enough, and strong as an ox. Leonard’s typical bully procedures on the low-block do not work against Tucker’s stout frame, and as a result, Leonard was forced into multiple mid-range jump shots last night.

Tucker is one of the most underrated parts of the Rockets. He’s a great defender, versatile, and can shoot it well enough to keep defenses honest. Luckily, the Raptors won’t need to face him or the rest of the Rockets for the rest of the season.


Consistency is something the Toronto Raptors have been unable to find. Either from night-to-night. Or within a game itself. When the Raptors have played up to their skyscraper sized ceiling, they’ve looked unbeatable. Unfortunately, that only seems to happen once in a great while.

Tuesday night’s defeat to the Houston Rockets was just another example of that. The Raptors won the third quarter 34-14. They lost the rest of the game by 32.

Next. Should Marc Gasol be scoring more?. dark

If they want to reach the NBA finals, at some point Toronto will need to stop showing flashes of a great team and just be a great team. Consistently. They still have time to figure it out, but with only 17 games remaining, there isn’t much sand remaining in that hourglass.