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Toronto Raptors

Five takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' 121-119 loss to the Houston Rockets

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James Harden (NBA Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors fell to the Houston Rockets on Friday by a final score of 121-119.

The Raptors trailed the entire game, but a couple of runs in the second half put them in position to win on the final possession.

From an explosive first half from the Rockets to what happened down the stretch, here are five takeaways from the game...

The first half

The Raptors have been one of the better defensive teams in the league this season, but they had absolutely no answer for the Rockets in the first half of this game.

Houston scored 70 points after two quarters, which is the second-most points Toronto has allowed in the first half of a game this season; the 71 points they gave up to the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 27 being the most.

Harden wasn't even the one who gave them the most trouble. Austin Rivers did his best Chris Paul impression with eight points and five assists, Eric Gordon led the rest of the Rockets in scoring with 24 points, PJ Tucker was responsible for four of the team's seven made 3-pointers and Kenneth Faried had a double-double in only 17 minutes of action.

Despite a 41-point second quarter, the Raptors found themselves trailing by nine entering the third - and they were lucky to not be down by more.

The final minute

The Rockets looked like they were going to cruise to a double digit win, then things got interesting.

Up 121-110 lead with 1:14 remaining, Harden and Gordon committed a pair of turnovers down the stretch that the Raptors responded to with a trio of 3-pointers; one by Kawhi Leonard, one by Danny Green and one by Pascal Siakam.

The Raptors even had an opportunity to win the game after Gordon took a questionable 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining that missed, but a 3-pointer from Leonard came up short.

The Raptors ended up making six of their 14 3-point attempts in the fourth compared to only 1-of-13 for the Rockets. Had the Rockets not gotten to the free throw line 18 times and made 14 of their attempts, this might've been a different outcome.

James Harden's streak of 30-point games

Harden entered Friday's game having scored 30 or more points in 21 consecutive games.

That streak now sits at 22 games - and counting.

Following a quiet first half, Harden found his rhythm in the third quarter to the tune of 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. He then scored 11 more points in the fourth quarter to bring his point total to 35 on the night.

Harden is now averaging 44.4 points per game in January. Only Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor have ever averaged 40 or more points in a month (minimum 10 games played).

The Rockets have two more games before the calendar flips to February. They play the Orlando Magic on Sunday, followed by a matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

Kawhi Leonard's streak of 20-point games

Speaking of streaks, Leonard finished the game with a team-high 32 points for the Raptors.

Leonard has now scored 20 or more points in 21 consecutive games, putting him ahead of DeMar DeRozan for the second-longest streak in franchise history. Only Vince Carter has more, with 23 consecutive games of 20 or more points.

Leonard was his usual efficient self, as he made 11 of his 19 shot attempts from the field, three of his six 3-point attempts and all seven of his attempts from the free throw line. He also pulled down seven rebounds and five assists.

Leonard did, however, tie his season-high with six turnovers - perhaps a sign of rust with this being his first game since since Toronto's loss to the Boston Celtics on Jan. 16.

A quiet night for Kyle Lowry

The Rockets held Lowry to only nine points in his 38 minutes on the court on Friday. The four-time All-Star missed seven of his nine shot attempts, including five of his six 3-point attempts.

It was one of Lowry's worse performances over the last couple of weeks, but it wasn't out of the ordinary. Since returning from injury on Jan. 6, he is averaging 13.0 points per game on 34.5 percent shooting from the field and 29.0 percent from the perimeter.

Lowry is still setting up his teammates at a high rate - he dished out a game-high 11 assists against the Rockets - but it's games like this where his scoring his needed.

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