Raptors handle Harden but can’t corral rest of Rockets in home loss

Raptors handle Harden but can’t corral rest of Rockets in home loss

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors restricted Houston star James Harden to 23 points but failed to corral the rest of the Rockets in a 119-109 loss Thursday.

Ben McLemore led Houston (14-7) with 28 points as the Rockets snapped a three-game road losing streak. Pascal Siakam had 24 for Toronto (15-6), which lost its second straight at home after winning its first nine of the season at Scotiabank Arena.

Harden scored 17 of his points in the second half. Russell Westbrook had 19 points on 7-of-27 shooting.

It was a sloppy game with 18 turnovers for Toronto and 23 for Houston.

Toronto kicked it up a gear in the third quarter, taking the lead for the first time after trailing by as many as 16. Still Houston, with Harden scoring 11 in the third, led 94-88 going into the final quarter.

Harden headed to the locker-room after taking a blow to the head at the end of the third as bodies clashed under the basket, but returned minutes later.

Toronto got to within one at 101-100 only to see Houston reel off a 12-3 run. Leading 115-109 with 1:14 remaining, Houston successfully challenged a foul call on a failed Toronto three-pointer to seal the deal.

Harden, who had combined for 110 points in his previous two games, was often little more than an interested observer early on in the face of Toronto’s extra attention. He attempted just three shots in a first half that saw seven other players outscore him.

The Beard came into the game leading the league at 39.5 points per game. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo was second, averaging 31.0.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse hinted that the team had something up its sleeve against Harden and the high-scoring Rockets.

“We shall see what it feels like. We’ve got an idea of something we’re going to try,” he said before the game without elaborating. “We’ll see if we have enough guts to go with it.”

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni was unconcerned.

“We play the way we play. James, he’s seen it all,” he said

“We’ve got one of the best offensive scorers ever. We made that decision three years ago to put the ball in his hands and it’s worked,” he added.

On the first few possessions, Toronto’s OG Anunoby stuck to Harden like glue even as they stood well away from the play. Fred VanVleet came over to help when Harden had the ball.

Harden, content to draw the attention and try to feed teammates, did not attempt a shot for seven minutes 53 seconds before slicing in for a layup. Houston had turned the ball over six times midway through the first quarter.

Rapper Drake watched from his courtside perch as Houston recorded 10 assists — two by Harden — on 11 made field goals in the quarter.

Houston led 34-28 after the first quarter, with Harden contributing three points. Rockets forward Danuel House Jr., who had missed the two previous games due to illness, had 14 points in under six minutes off the bench in the quarter.

Siakam had 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting — and two fouls — in the quarter.

Harden’s second shot came 6:47 into the second quarter when he drove into the paint, got the bucket and the foul. He missed his third, with less than 30 seconds in the half.

The Rockets led by as many as 16 in the second quarter as Toronto shooters went cold before rallying to cut the deficit to eight at the break.

House, McLemore and P.J. Tucker accounted for 41 of Houston’s 63 first-half points. Harden had six and Westbrook nine (on 4-of-11 shooting).

Harden sank an off-balance three-pointer early in the third quarter and followed up with another long-distance shot.

An Anunoby dunk cut the lead to three at 74-71 and Kyle Lowry tied it up with a three-pointer as Toronto went on a 12-0 run. The Raptors took the lead for the first time at 76-75 on a pair of Lowry free throws.

McLemore reached a career high in the third quarter as he sank his seventh three-pointer.

Houston was coming off a double-overtime loss in San Antonio. The Spurs defeat was Houston’s fourth in its last six games, following an eight-game winning streak.

Toronto suffered its first home loss of the season Tuesday, a 121-110 overtime setback at the hands of the Miami Heat in Lowry’s return after an 11-game absence due to a broken thumb.

Toronto had won seven straight and 11 of its previous 13 prior to the Miami defeat.

Thursday’s game was played on Giants of Africa night, marking the legacy of Nelson Mandela who died on Dec. 5, 2013. Earlier in the day Raptors president Masai Ujuri took part in a related youth summit.

NOTES: The Raptors play in Philadelphia on Sunday before visiting Chicago on Monday. Then it’s back home to welcome Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers on Wednesday. Houston heads home to host Phoenix on Saturday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta adds 463 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The central zone has 818 active cases

Red Deer teacher Janelle Van Tetering had her students write letters to attach to Blankets of Hope, which will be donated to the Mustard Seed. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer teacher, students donate ‘Blankets of Hope’ to those in need

A Red Deer teacher and her students are giving warm blankets and… Continue reading

RCMP have charged a Sylvan Lake man for allegedly defrauding five people of more than $100,000.
Advocate file photo
20-year-old woman killed in collision: Blackfalds RCMP

A 20-year-old woman was killed in a collision on Saturday, says Blackfalds… Continue reading

Patrick Malkin, co-owner of The Granary Kitchen, says he wants the provincial government to lift COVID-19 restrictions that shutdown in-person dining. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer restaurant owner ‘frustrated’ in-person dining restrictions are still in place

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the restrictions won’t yet be eased this past Thursday

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Toronto Maple Leafs' Alexander Kerfoot, centre, tries to get the puck past Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, right, as Noah Hanifin looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Morgan Reilly’s three assists lifts Maple Leafs to 3-2 win over Flames

Leafs 3 Flames 2 CALGARY — Morgan Reilly’s three assists helped the… Continue reading

Green Bay Packers' Adrian Amos (31) reacts after intercepting a pass intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Road warriors: Bucs win 31-26 at Green Bay, reach Super Bowl

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ road… Continue reading

People arrive to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, January 24, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Too soon to know if Canada’s COVID-19 case decline will continue, Tam says

MONTREAL — It’s still too soon to know whether the recent downward… Continue reading

Flowers are seen at the front door of Dr. Denis Vincent's dental practice in North Vancouver, B.C. on March 31, 2020, after he died of COVID-19. The British Columbia Dental Association has written a letter to Premier John Horgan urging him to include dentists in a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dentists, teachers disappointed they won’t be prioritized for vaccine in B.C.

VANCOUVER — Dentists and teachers are among the groups that are disappointed… Continue reading

Indiana Pacers guard Justin Holiday (8) shoots over Toronto Raptors forward DeAndre' Bembry (95) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Anunoby’s hot hand helps short-handed Raptors beat Pacers

Raptors 107 Pacers 102 INDIANAPOLIS — OG Anunoby scored a season-high 30… Continue reading

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site… Continue reading

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Taxpayers’ watchdog sees complaints spike, raising worries about pandemic tax season

OTTAWA — Canada’s taxpayers’ ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep… Continue reading

Most Read