The Houston Rockets' franchise-record losing streak is no more.
With a 117-99 win over the Toronto Raptors Monday night, Houston is back in the win column for the first time since early February and moves to 12-30 on the season. Toronto has now dropped nine in a row to fall to 17-26 on the year.
Jae'Sean Tate led the way for the Rockets with 22 points while John Wall recorded a triple-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. For the Raptors, Fred VanVleet led the way with a game-high 27 points while Pascal Siakam turned in a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Here are some takeaways from the buzzer…
Something had to give
Toronto had lost eight straight, Houston had dropped its last 20.
One losing streak had to end.
The Rockets were entering dangerous territory as they were fast approaching the league-record of 28 losses in a row after already breaking the franchise record of 17. Now, they can focus on beginning a new win streak.
Toronto, on the other hand, will continue to seek answers as it reaches a new low in a difficult season.
Things fall apart in the fourth
Toronto scrapped and clawed to head into the final frame down just two points.
Then Houston pulled away.
The Rockets outscored the Raptors 29-13 in the fourth quarter to earn a convincing 18-point win. Houston's defence deserves credit but it also appeared that Toronto had run out of gas as it shot just 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) in the quarter.
Hard to win like that.
Ahead of this one, it was announced that OG Anunoby would be out to rest on the second night of a back-to-back.
In addition to missing time while in the league's health and safety protocols, it is also worth noting that Anunoby also missed a lengthy period of time due to a lingering calf issue. There's no true point in speculating whether or not this absence was because of one reason or the other or both but Toronto is taking a cautious approach with its young star.
Not including the games in which the team was without four others, the Raptors fall to 6-7 without Anunoby.
Raptors need more across the board
Without Anunoby, the production from the remaining starters becomes even more important.
Toronto's core four answered the call, with VanVleet scoring a game-high 27 points (on 9-for-17 shooting), Siakam adding 21 points, Norman Powell finishing with 19 points and Kyle Lowry scoring 17 points of his own.
With the above four combining to score 84 points, the rest of the team scored just 15 on 5-for-20 (25.0 percent) shooting. Starting in place of Anunoby, Stanley Johnson failed to score in just under 17 minutes of action and Chris Boucher fell well shy of his season average with just four points.
Paul Watson, the next leading scorer had six points, all of which came in the opening frame.
Vintage John Wall moments
It wasn't the most efficient night for Wall, who finished the night shooting 8-for-30 from the field. But the five-time All-Star also recorded his first triple-double since the 2015-16 season and had a few moments that reminded us of his All-Star athleticism.
🌪 SHEESH 🌪 pic.twitter.com/AWt3xkYeSn- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 23, 2021
Considering this is Wall's first full season after missing time due to surgeries on his Achilles tendon and his heel, the 30-year-old Wall is showing that he has plenty left to give.
Back-to-back woes continue
This concludes the eighth back-to-back for the Raptors this season. Their record in such games? 1-7.
What once was a strength has been a weakness of this team, which owns the league's worst record in back-to-backs in the 2020-21 season. Making matters more difficult for this year's Raptors team is the truncated schedule and being shorthanded during a number of back-to-backs, including this one as OG Anunoby was sidelined.
The rebound battle
Coming into this one, the Raptors were outrebounded 216-136 over their last four games.
It's hard to win when you're outrebounded by an average margin of 20 boards.
This one was a bit closer as Houston outrebounded Toronto 56-52 on the game but still, it's worth noting that the small-ball lineups often compromise the team's ability to pull down boards.
Toronto heads back to Tampa to face a gauntlet-like stretch of games that begins on Wednesday as it hosts the Denver Nuggets. Wednesday's game takes place at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN and will make history by featuring an all-female broadcast crew.
Catch you then.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.