Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Houston Rockets
Records: Raptors (15-5), Rockets (13-7)
Where to Watch
Date: Dec. 5, 2019
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: TSN 4 (Canada), AT&T Sports Network Southwest or NBA TV (USA)
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
After having their seven-game win streak snapped with an overtime loss on Tuesday, the Raptors are back in action as they host the Rockets, who are coming off of an overtime loss of their own.
LAST TIME OUT: Heat hold off Raptors | Spurs complete comeback vs. Rockets
Despite staging a late rally to force overtime, Toronto just couldn't get going offensively in the loss to Miami, as it shot 38.5% from the field. All-Star guard Kyle Lowry returned to the lineup after missing the team's last 11 games but shot 2-for-18 from the field and 0-for-11 from beyond the arc, a shooting performance that he called "terrible" and attributed to a lack of rhythm.
That lack of rhythm appeared to affect more than just Lowry. Pascal Siakam shot just 5-for-14 from the field while Fred VanVleet went 5-for-16. It was Norman Powell who stepped up for the Raptors, scoring a game-high 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting, including a clutch 3-pointer late in regulation that completed the team's rally.
Powell's performance was especially encouraging considering he returned to a reserve role after starting the last 11 games in Lowry's absence. Over the last three games, the fifth-year guard is averaging 23.7 points on .591/.542/.889 shooting splits. Should Powell continue his recent stretch of impressive play, the Raptors should get back on track in no time as bounce-back games are to be expected from both Siakam and VanVleet.
Conversely, Houston was on the wrong side of a late rally as it led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter before falling in double overtime to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. It was a rough shooting night for the Rockets, who shot 37.5% from the field and connected on just 29.4% of their 51 3-point attempts.
It was James Harden who led the way for Houston, as he finished with 50 points despite shooting just 11-for-38 from the field and 4-for-20 from 3-point range. Harden made a living at the line, shooting a franchise-record 24-for-24 from the charity stripe.
Following his 60-point performance, @JHarden13 drops 50 in the @HoustonRockets 2OT thriller vs. SAS. #OneMission pic.twitter.com/BfIhMVdFMh- NBA (@NBA) December 4, 2019
Harden has now scored 50 or more points in two consecutive games and three times this season. His most recent outburst brought his league-leading scoring average to 39.5 points per game through the first 20 games of the season.
With the Raptors' recent history of limiting opposing stars, how difficult can they make things for Harden?
The reigning back-to-back scoring champ has entered the realm of being a player that you aim to contain, as neutralizing or stopping him are virtually out of the question.
After Harden, offseason acquisition Russell Westbrook continues to try and find his way as he gets accustomed to a new team, a new system and a new backcourt mate. Still, Westbrook has posted averages of 21.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists in his first 18 games as a Rocket. Big man Clint Capela has almost quietly been dominant this year, averaging 15.1 points and 15.1 rebounds while shooting 65.7% from the field.
As the loss to the Spurs indicates, a big night from Harden doesn't guarantee a Rockets win. With that in mind, it will be crucial for Toronto to make sure Houston's supporting cast doesn't have too great of an impact on Thursday.
The NBA has yet to release an official injury report for Thursday's game.
- The Rockets (15.7 3-pointers per game) and Raptors (14.4 3-pointers per game) are two of the league's top perimeter shooting teams.
- Toronto is 9-1 at home this season while Houston is 5-5 on the road.
- Through 20 games, James Harden's 39.5 points per game lead the league.
- Toronto and Houston faced off twice in the preseason as they took part in the 2019 NBA Japan Games.
- Rockets forward PJ Tucker was selected by the Raptors with the 35th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. He appeared in 41 regular-season games with the Raptors in two different stints (2005-06, 2016-17) and 10 postseason games in 2017.
- Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry appeared in 218 regular-season games with the Rockets from 2008-12 and 13 postseason games in 2009.
Last Time They Played
Date: March 5, 2019
Score: Rockets 107, Raptors 95
Rockets: James Harden - 35 points, 3 assists, 3 steals
Raptors: Kawhi Leonard - 26 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal