Toronto Raptors: Whose stock is rising/falling, plus Kyle Lowry heats up

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 5: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors looks on during the national anthem prior to the game against the Houston Rockets on March 5, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 5: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors looks on during the national anthem prior to the game against the Houston Rockets on March 5, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Marc Gasol (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Bench vs Houston Rockets

Well, that was ugly.

The Toronto Raptors came into the game against Houston looking to close the gap on the Milwaukee Bucks, and they could have, were it not for the shambolic, and frankly, embarrassing display from the bench.

The starting unit of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka was impressive. In the 29 minutes, they shared the court for, they had a NetRating of +27.8 and an incredible 86.8 Defensive Rating. They clawed the Raptors back into the game in second half, and despite being down by 18 at half-time, had a legitimate chance to win the game until Harden killed them off.

The performance of the bench would have killed the game off a lot sooner, if not for the resilience of the starting lineup.

The combination of Lowry and the bench unit had a NetRating of -153.6 in five minutes of action, yuck. While swapping Siakam for Lowry at the start of the fourth, you would have got a NetRating of -126.7 in two minutes of action. It was in those moments that the game was decided.

It was anything but productive, the bench was outscored 37-20, with Gerald Green and Austin Rivers dealing the most damage, combining for 31 points and seven made three-pointers.

Not making changes sooner put the game to bed for the Raptors, and it really could have been avoided. The bench needs to step up, as it ranks among one of the worst second units in the league right now, a far cry from where it was last season.

Next. Five biggest what-ifs in Toronto Raptors history. dark

It can only get better for the bench and let’s hope it starts on Friday night. See you all next week!