Archive for the ‘Houston Rockets’ Category

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Jose, Amir and the rest of the Raptors had the ACC rocking on Friday night

Over 16 000 fans were on hand to see a dandy of a game inside the ACC on Friday night.

The Raptors got off to a good start, the Rockets kept up, and we had a solid back-and-forth ball game going all night.

Sure, the Raps had a couple of lapses here and there that resulted in Houston making some runs, but give credit to Jay Triano and the coaching staff for calling timely timeouts and switching up Toronto’s defensive schemes to stop those runs.

A 13-point first half lead for the Raptors had actually become a six-point deficit late in the third quarter, but the Raps recovered with a 7-0 run to end the third with a slim lead.

Then, for the second straight game, Toronto dominated the fourth quarter with (mostly) quality possessions and timely stops to pull away down the stretch.

The Raptors outscored the Rockets 31-22 in the fourth, as the liveliest ACC crowd of the young season cheered on.

It should be noted that in the last two fourth quarters combined, the Raptors have outscored their opponents 56-37. For a team that had so much trouble closing out games through the first few weeks of the season, perhaps the last couple of fourth quarters were indications of growth.

This was truly an all-around team-win for Toronto. Bargnani led the charge, but all nine players that saw action chipped in. Sonny was hot early and battled through foul trouble. DeMar decided to relentlessly attack the rim in the second half. Kleiza abused whoever was defending him. Amir and Reggie continued to do what they do, the dirty work. David Andersen consistently nailed his jumper from the top of the key, and the two point guards combined for 14 points and 15 assists, while committing only three turnovers.

Jose was the better point-man again tonight, but credit Jarrett Jack for sharing the rock and spreading the wealth when he realized his jumper was still M.I.A. Jack had eight dimes and just one turnover in 23 minutes.

One thing I wanted to mention tonight has to do with plus/minus. Usually, I know it’s a useless stat. But in a close ball game like tonight’s, when you look at the boxscore and see Amir Johsnon at +29, Calderon at +27, and Kleiza at +20, it has to mean something, no?

It’s a rather irrelevant point, but has anyone noticed the Raptors have been outstanding on Friday nights this season? They blew out Cleveland, stunned Orlando and slipped by the Rockets all in Friday night affairs, and their lone Friday night loss came in a great effort against the two-time defending champs in L.A.

Next up, the Celtics, who the Raptors haven’t beaten at the ACC since the 2006-07 season and the team who has won eight straight versus the Raptors. No one’s expecting a W, but it would be nice to see this young team at least stick around.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani -36 Min, 26 Pts, 11-17 FG, 1-1 3Pt, 3-3 FT, 6 Reb, 4 Ast (Andrea looked unstoppable, offensively, tonight. Inside, outside, he had it all going)

Rockets Player of the Game: Kevin Martin – 40 Min, 31 Pts, 8-16 FG, 4-7 3Pt, 11-11 FT, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

Goat of the Game: Chase Budinger – 14 Min, 0 Pts, 0-6 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 1 Reb, 2 TO (Not to mention, he was absolutely abused by Linas Kleiza in the post.)

Brad Miller

Houston Rockets center Brad Miller wears camoflage ankle tape. Hey, it's a statement. (Getty Images)

After splitting the four games of their just-completed road trip, the Raptors return to Toronto for a three-game homestand and seven home dates in their next eight games. Four of those games are against sub-.500 teams so it’s safe to say that they should be able to win at least five of these games for there to be any reason to take this team seriously.

The Houston Rockets probably thought they would be taken seriously this season but injuries to Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks plus uncharacteristically lousy defence (they’re 23rd in the league with 109.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) have combined to give them a 3-8 record and they appear to be a write-off in the West already. They have a couple of guys putting up big numbers in Luis Scola (22.9 PPG, 10 RPG) and Kevin Martin (23.1 PPG) but their third-best healthy player is… I don’t know… Shane Battier? Brad Miller? Rockets GM Daryl Morey isn’t looking like so much of a wonderboy these days.

Leandro Barbosa is expected to return to the Raptors lineup tonight, which isn’t necessarily good news if it means that he takes playing time and shots away from red-hot Sonny Weems. Funny, but before the season I expected that Weems would become somewhat of an afterthought on this team because of Barbosa’s arrival. I’m more than happy to be wrong about this.

Injury report

Toronto: If Barbosa is back, then mystery man Ed Davis is the only remaining injured Raptor.

Houston: Chase Budinger is expected to play tonight after missing his last three games with a sprained ankle, so it’s just Yao and Brooks sitting out.

Five questions

1. Did you know that Sonny Weems currently has the highest field goal percentage in the NBA among guards who take at least 10 field goal attempts per game? (Stat courtesy of T. Jose Caldeford.)

2. Can Andrea Bargnani have another 30-point game against the defensively weak frontcourt of Brad Miller and Luis Scola?

3. Considering the current state of the Rockets, would you swap Bryan Colangelo for Daryl Morey if you could?

4. Do you think Reggie Evans likes playing against Chuck Hayes because he gets to make fun of the Chuckwagon’s free throw shooting?

5. Did you know that Joakim Noah considers Brad Miller to be his best friend in the NBA? “I never knew that I could have a redneck as a best friend. Brad is probably my best friend in the league. Somebody I learned a lot from. And I miss that Duck.”

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani
Houston: Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Brad Miller

Your pregame song is “Spacious Thoughts” by N.A.S.A. featuring Kool Keith and Tom Waits. Most unlikely hip-hop collab ever? Dunno, but it’s a cool song and a great video.