Raptors Give Houston Problems

Houston with some nice passing getting an easy 2 points and Calderon a nice jumper in the paint and were off and running tied at 2, which will be more scoring that 40,000 plus likely see at the TFC game down the street. Teams continued to trade buckets and were tied at 6. Raptors would take the first real advantage of the night with a James Johnson slam, followed by a Houston turnover, that led to DeRozan being fouled and making two at the line making it 10-6 Raptors. Amir Johnson was back in the line-up and starting and he finished off a Johnson to Johnson play with a basket. Not long after we were one Johnson shorter as James picked up his 2nd foul early on. Raptors were making good passes and turning it into points up 16-10 with 6:33 to play in 1st. Demar DeRozan with a basket and one with 5:05 to play, but left the and one short, still the Raptors lead 20-13. This was an important game for the Rockets though as they were hanging on to last ticket to playoffs in the ultra close Western Conference. So the Rockets would make a push and with 2:24 left had this back to a one possession game trailing 24-21 to the Raptors. Raptors had let the Rockets get to even at 28 but got a little good luck as Bayless nailed a buzzer beater 3. Still the Raptors deserved better than a 3 point lead based on how they played. Some solid ball movement had their offense clicking.

Well hold the phone the replay would disallow the the Bayless three so make it 28-28 as we start the 2nd. That might have motivated Bayless as he hit another 3 early in the 2nd to give the Raptors a 31-30 lead. Still the momentum in this game had shifted to Houston. Jaamal Maglorie would do something. What was it? Dumb foul? Nope something good actually an offensive rebound and passed it to Jose for an open 3 giving the Raptors 34-31. It would spark the Raptors to make a push and go on a 10-1 run and lead 41-32 book-ended by another 3 by Barbosa with 7:30ish left in the half. After a time out the Rockets would cut the lead down to just 3 points causing Casey to call for a time out with 6 minutes to play in the half. Good time out from Casey and it stops the bleeding with it 47-40 and Raptors shooting and insane percentage at 63% and rising, but only up 7. Raptors had a 9 point lead with 2:36 to go. Could they close out this quarter and go into halftime feeling good? James Johnson took a knee to the thigh from Sammy D and made one of two at the line on the foul. Sammy was motivated perhaps by seeing his "friend" Leo Rautins calling the game and got a score on the other end. Amir Johnson had answer for that but then picked up a foul after his slam with 1:22 to play. Raptors were actually extending the lead up to 13 with score 56-43. Next possession after that they commit the basketball sin of fouling a three point shooter. Lowery made them all and it was 56-46 with 34.2 to go and time out for the Raptors. Raptors would add two and go to the half with a 58-46 halftime lead.

Raptors were shooting 64.9% and had a 12 point halftime lead. If not for a lot of fouls it could be more. Houston has not been a good road team and it was showing so far in this one. Unfortunately the Raptors started the second half with more of same fouling Kevin Martin. He would make both and was 5-5 on the night, Houston as a team were 18-22. But the Raptors keep on rolling and Demar DeRozan got to the line and made a pair of his own and gave Raps their largest lead so far at 62-48. Raptors were slowly building on this lead. It was a shame with 40,000 plus down the street at Rogers Centre this was likely one of smaller crowds of the season. Houston was coming off an OT loss and got into Toronto late and it was showing as the ever growing Raptor lead got up to 17. Lowery nailed a three trying to get his team going and Scola got a score on break which was enough for Casey to call for a time out. Still with a comfy dozen point lead 71-59 but wanted to stop the momentum for the Rockets. Houston was starting to lose it's cool as he gets a technical foul. Raptors still up a dozen with score 73-61 with 6 to play in 3rd. Aaron Gray MVP march rolls on with a rebound that he taps to himself and scores. Amazing happens still in the NBA and Raptors led 75-63. Some slippage as the Rockets were slowly cutting into the Raptors lead. Fouls kept coming and Rockets kept making most of them. Raptors lead was down to 79-74 with just 1:34 to play in 3rd. Linas Kleiza interrupts his quiet night with a big three to push lead back to 8. Raptors 17 point lead at one point had been trimmed to 6 with score 82-76 at end of 3rd.

Pace of this game was fast and intense. Normally that would not be a good thing for the Raptors but given circumstances for the Rockets it might be on this night. Two teams were trading buckets early and DeRozan hooked up Barbosa in the corner for 3 making it 89-80. Still Houston needed this game and kept coming as Courtney Lee hit a big triple to make it 89-85. DeRozan was trying to get the crowd up looking to throw it down but he would get blocked but Kleiza would get the ball and put it in despite the block and it was 95-87. Raptors answer the Houston energy with some of their own as Demar Derozan was fired up and finished up with a lay up to make it 99-89 with 5:22 to play and time out for Houston. Things went from bad to worse for Houston as Lowery had to leave the game injured and the Raptors were charging hard. Raptors had built lead back to 106-89 with under 4 minutes to play. This was one of the better efforts of the season from the Raptors. They had a few bad moments but for the most part a consistent and solid effort. The Raptors had come all the way back and restored and surpassed their 17 point lead and now led by 19 with score 110-91. A Kleiza three would make the lead 22 as the Raptors had an 18-2 run and were on the way to win number lucky 13. It might have been the most impressive win of the season as the Raptors smash the Rockets 116-98.

The Raptors now will not see action till the weekend where that guy from Italy that some claim as a three point master could be back. The Raptors didn't need Bargnani tonight but will be happy to welcome him back be it on road Saturday vs Pistons or at home vs Bucks on Sunday. Shame more didn't get to see this one but it was their loss cause this was a great effort from the Raptors perhaps the most complete one of the season to this point.

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