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Toronto Raptors

Five takeaways from the Toronto Raptors loss to the Houston Rockets

The Rockets led big, then the Raptors came back.

The Rockets led big again, then Raptors ran out of time.

Houston defeated Toronto 107-95 for their sixth consecutive win and their second win against the Raptors this season.

Here are your takeaways from Tuesday's game...

All Rockets second quarter

It was a rather ugly first quarter for both teams, but the Rockets got things going immediately in the second quarter.

Gerald Green scored seven straight points for Houston to build their lead to nine, forcing a Raptors timeout.

The timeout didn't work as the Rockets extended that run to 19-4, giving them a commanding 19-point lead - all with James Harden on the bench.

They also got seven points out of Austin Rivers in the quarter while Chris Paul had the offence running like a well-oiled machine with five assists. He also finished the quarter an impressive plus-20.

Houston shot 65.0 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from three while the Raptors shot 29.2 percent and 25.0 percent, respectively.

Toronto had six turnovers in the quarter (after a five turnover first quarter), which Houston turned into nine points the other way.

All Raptors third quarter

After one of the Raptors' worst halves of basketball all season they came out of the locker room guns blazing in the third quarter.

It looked like a completely different team as they were imposing their will on the defensive end, making the extra pass for easier buckets on the offensive end and playing with an energy and drive that energized the home crowd.

It all started with a 15-2 run led by a couple 3-pointers and a handful of defensive stops. In fact, the Rockets did not convert their first field goal until the seven-minute mark in the quarter. Before you knew it, the Raptors were right back in it as they tied the game in roughly eight and a half minutes.

Pascal Siakam was playing like a man possessed - he scored 15 points in the third quarter alone.

Serge Ibaka anchored the paint on defence with four blocks and four defensive rebounds.

After an 11-turnover first half, Toronto took care of the ball with zero turnovers in the frame while dishing out six assists, just one shy of their first half total.

The had 37 points at the half and scored 34 points in the third to give themselves a two-point lead heading into the fourth - the significance of that stat speaks for itself.

Gerald Green plays X-Factor

The difference maker in this game was Gerald Green, and there's no getting around it.

Green played his role perfectly as a microwave off the bench, getting hot fast and making the Raptors' second unit pay for laxed defence.

In his first stint on the floor, Green scored seven quick points to start the Rockets' second quarter run that had originally blown the game open. He knocked down a 3-pointer and was aggressive in attacking the rim, scoring an easy layup and getting to the free throw line.

After the Raptors' starters went on their crazy third quarter outburst, they had to head to the bench to rest up for what looked like a close finish. Green, however, had other plans.

When he checked in in the fourth quarter, he buried three consecutive 3-pointers to erase Toronto's lead and swing the momentum back to Houston.

The Rockets would go on to score 38 points in the fourth quarter and win the game decisively. Green finished with 18 points going 4-for-7 from beyond the arc and was a game-best plus-23.

Second unit struggles for Toronto

Raptors fans, look away.

Raptors' bench vs. Rockets
Player Minutes Played Plus/Minus
Marc Gasol 17:37 -30
Jeremy Lin 11:00 -22
Norman Powell 9:56 -16
OG Anunoby 13:41 -30
Patrick McCaw 9:58 -15

It would be an understatement to say the bench cost the Raptors the win in this one. They allowed the huge second quarter run that gave the Rockets a big halftime lead and when the starters battled to take the lead in the third quarter, the second unit allowed a huge fourth quarter run that decided the game.

This is unlike the Raptors' bench, which has been the reason for a handful of wins this season. But on Tuesday, they just did not have it.

The Rockets bench outscored Toronto's 37-20, but it wasn't just the lack of flow on offence that was the issue.

Houston's bench scored whenever they wanted and with ease against the Raptors' second unit - something you would not have expected with Gasol playing off the bench.

It may have been a lack of rythym, an adjustment period with the new players or the constant lineup changes. It also could be that Fred VanVleet, the floor general of the bench, is still out with a thumb injury.

Regardless of why, it was a game to forget for the Raptors' bench and something head coach Nick Nurse will have to take a close look at before their next game.

Serge Ibaka

Prior to this game, it seemed like the Raptors were going to move forward with Gasol as their starting centre. Nick Nurse decided to go back to the ol' reliable starting lineup with Ibaka at centre and his play was a key part of any success the Raptors had.

Ibaka was efficient on the offensive end with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field. He never forced his shot and even dished out two assists.

But it was his efforts on the glass and the defensive end that made the biggest impact in the game.

He had 15 rebounds, including five offensive boards, to give the Raptors a rebounding advantage over the Rockets. Ibaka also had a great game as a rim protector with a season-high five blocks.

He owned the painted area with 10 defensive boards to go with all of his blocked shots and played tough against a much bigger matchup in Clint Capela.

This isn't to say the Raptors should start Ibaka over Gasol - it's more to say that it's encouraging that Nurse can confidently go with either option based on the opponent.

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