Toronto Raptors

Raptors make defensive statement in big win over Houston Rockets

Scottie Barnes explodes to the rim in preseason action
(NBA Getty Images)

The Raptors starters looked sharp at home against the Houston Rockets, dominating the first half before cruising after the break.

The 107-92 win improved the Raptors to 2-2 in the preseason and 2-0 on their home floor. Precious Achiuwa and OG Anunoby led the scoring with 17 points each.

Everything was clicking for Toronto, with a half-court heave from Malachi Flynn setting a crowd alight to end the third quarter.

Let's jump to some of the key takeways.

One big takeaway

The Raptors were absolutely everywhere on defence.

Much has been made of the size and length on the Toronto roster in the offseason, with the defensive versatility causing havoc against the Rockets.

Racing out to a 28-19 lead through one quarter, the Raptors forced seven turnovers in the period with five different players recording a steal. The turnovers created instant offence with the team leading the fast break points count 8-0.

On one play, Precious Achiuwa switched onto the perimeter to guard Kevin Porter Jr., who may have thought he had a mismatch. Achiuwa was able to stay in front of the zippy guard, forcing him into a contested shot. The ensuing rebound ended in Fred VanVleet sizzling a pass to Scottie Barnes for the throwdown.

Those types of plays filtered throughout the evening in what looks to be the blueprint for the Raptors success in 2021-22. Overall, the Raptors tallied 18 steals, forced 30 turnovers and won the fast break point battle 30-11.

The exciting part is that the aggressive defensive style and fast-paced offence is still yet to insert its most valuable piece in Pascal Siakam.

5 thoughts

  • Did we just see the opening night starting lineup? VanVleet, Achiuwa, Barnes, Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby made up the starting five, in what appears to be their most dangerous lineup with the players available.
  • Kenyon Martin Jr. finished in the paint to cap an 8-2 run to close the gap to 40-30 with 7:00 left in the first half. Nick Nurse immediately called time and the Raptors responded by outscoring Houston 17-8 heading into halftime. It's only preseason but the ability to reset and take back momentum out of a timeout would be pleasing for Nurse.
  • OG Anunoby delivered another eye-catching performance to finish with 17 points. Anunoby was particularly ruthless when guarded by Houston rookie Alperan Sengun.

First, he served up this dunk.

Then came this nasty crossover and finish.

Welcome to the league, rook!

  • It may only be preseason but that didn't stop Drake from making an appearance courtside at Scotiabank Arena. He even joined the TSN broadcast during the third quarter. NBA basketball is officially back in Toronto!
  • Gary Trent Jr. moved into the starting lineup for this one as Goran Dragic had the night off. Trent Jr. finished with nine points and three steals in 18 minutes of play. Impressive rookie Scottie Barnes led the team in minutes with 25:32.

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