It is not the time for “must-win” scenarios, but this was a game the Rockets really needed in the win column. Facing a Raptors team with more foreigners than the cast of a Spanish soap opera, Houston outmatched them on paper at every position. But as I have said before, what appears to be on paper doesn’t always translate to play on the court. Amid a flurry of runs to try and get back into the game, the Rockets could not find a consistent rhythm to take down the Raptors. Houston led 81-80 with 9:52 left in the game (after Linas Kleiza and K-Mart traded threes) but Toronto stormed ahead 91-81 with an 11-0 run over the next four minutes.
Toronto wins back-to-back games for the first time this season, something even the Rockets have been able to do. The Raptors are 3-1 on Fridays, 1-8 the rest of the week. Houston has now lost three straight games, are 2-6 on the road and 0-7 when allowing more than 100 points.
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Former number one draft pick, Andrea Bargnani, is finally coming into his own at the NBA level. He had a team-high 26 points for the Raptors, shooting 11-17 from the field. Bargnani has scored 25-or-more points in a game six times in the 13 games he has played this season. That number matches the total number of 25-point games he had in the 80 games he played last season.
It was a rough night for the Rockets bench. They were outscored 46-11. Let’s take a look at the two benches:
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There is absolutely no way this lineup should have outscored the Rockets bench 46-11. That is completely inexcusable. David Anderson, who the Rockets cut, almost outscored the entire Houston bench himself (nine points). With two of the best players on the roster out with injuries, you would expect the young players to cherish the opportunity they have to see increased minutes. But when they put up these types of numbers, there is not a team in the league the Rockets will beat…I include the L.A. Clippers. Matt wrote earlier this week about how he suspected the Rockets bench isn’t as deep as people originally thought, and after performances like this…he is dead on.
It wasn’t a good day for the Rockets, as they are off to their worst start since opening 3-11 five years ago. They finished the season 34-48 that year, failing to make the playoffs. Houston is now 3-9, sporting a worse record than my NBA 2K11 Rockets team (and trust me I am not very good at that game). The team also found out Yao is going to be out two more weeks after being diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left ankle. I feel like a local news outlet…And in more bad news: the Rockets schedule doesn’t get easier over the next two weeks. They face the Suns, Warriors, Bobcats, OKC, Dallas, LAL, Memphis, and Chicago. Hopefully they can steal a couple wins from above .500 teams, but the way the Rockets have played…it is doubtful.