Houston Rockets Vs Toronto Raptors Preview

By Sarah Breuner

Nov 9, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) brings the ball up the court during the first quarter as Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) defends at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets are looking to start their week off on a good note and end their two-game losing streak Monday against the Toronto Raptors.  Now at 4-3 after falling short against both the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, Houston will face Toronto in the Toyota Center.  This will be the first of just two meetings between the teams this year in regular season play.  The 3-4 Raptors are coming off a win against the Utah Jazz.

Latest Injury Update

James Harden is currently recovering from a bruised left foot.  As of Friday, his status was day-to-day, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.  Feigen reports the same status for Jeremy Lin, who has a sore right elbow.  Toronto’s Kyle Lowry is questionable for Monday night’s game after spraining his ankle against the Utah Jazz Saturday.

Lowry A Large Factor

Whether or not guard Kyle Lowry plays Monday, he will have a big effect on the game and the Rockets must respond.  Lowry is among his team’s top scorers and leads in assists with 5.6 per game.  This ankle sprain is his second minor injury of the season, the first being a sprained tendon in his finger.

Time For The Defense To Step Up

Yes, the season is still young.  But if they want a record more indicative of the talent on their roster, the Rockets must step up their game defensively.  Thankfully for Houston, the Raptors rank 21st when it comes to points per game.  Harden and Howard must play more in sync and consistently to be a greater threat against the Raptor’s offense.  On the other side of the ball, both Toronto’s defense and Houston’s offense are very highly-ranked, both being in the top ten in the league.

Need For A Change Of Pace

After a performance coach Kevin McHale described as “dried-up” on both sides of the ball against the Clippers, it is time for the team to get some energy in its game.  McHale said that players began to hang their heads when they were just four or six points behind in the fourth quarter.  He also said that “we haven’t really hit stride at all yet as a team,” something that must change sooner rather than later.  Just seven games into the regular season, this is just the time for a change of pace for a dragging Houston team.

Home Court Advantage

For the last twelve (yes, twelve!) times these teams have met, the home team came out on top.  How much longer can this streak continue?

Tip-Off: 7 PM CST

TV:  CSN Houston