Houston Rockets top 4 offense tipped off against the Raptors top 3 offense, but only Toronto brought their defense to the court. SCS post game player grades reflect just how much defensive work is left to do.
On a nice roll of late the Houston Rockets appeared to be moving in the right direction. National pundits were paying them respect and many thought this was the beginning of Houston’s climb back into the West’s upper echelon. Well, as my game day pointed out although the Rockets have played a ton of road games they’ve yet to be truly tested.
Conversely, the Toronto Raptors arrived in town having played 3 of the other top 5 offenses (Raptors 3rd, Rockets 4th). They even had the unbearable back to back of Cleveland – Golden State followed by a game in Denver’s altitude one day later. Then the ridiculous call occurred in Sacramento robbing them of the chance to play overtime. And just to add insult to injury their reward was getting to play the rested Clippers on the next night. Now that, is adversity.
One would assume a team having traveled through 4 time zones and playing their sixth game in 9 days would be fatigued and ripe for the picking. Both teams spoke of their need to improve defensively, but it was the road weary Raptors squad whose actions matched their words.
The Raptors thoroughly and completely outmatched the Rockets in almost every regard. By night’s end the Rockets had committed 26 turnovers of which James Harden was responsible for 12 (yes, you read that correctly).
The simple lesson we learned is the 3 point shot can help you get back into a game. That said, relying on hail Mary three’s once a team has thoroughly and completely spanked you isn’t an ideal strategy. Further, imagine what the top teams who have solid offense and defenses can do to this Rockets squad? Let alone a well rested squad!
As I mentioned in the game day, there aren’t too many teams out there who could weather the past 9 days and look as sharp as Toronto did. To reiterate, in 15 games the Raptors have played 5 of the 7 top defenses (losing only to the Clippers) and all the top offenses they share a top 5 berth with. Prior to this nasty stretch the Raptors were among the top 10 defenses and tonight provided full examples of why they’ll likely return to that position once their schedule balances out.
As for the home team it appeared the only strategy was to shoot from the perimeter as they hoisted 42 three point shots (connecting on 14). This isn’t the answer to winning consistently. Toronto repeatedly exposed the holes in the Rockets game and if the coaches and players were paying attention also provided plenty of fodder for areas the team needs to work on.
In the end, Trevor Ariza provided the shot that would push the Rockets score above 100, but make no mistake this was a beat down.
With that here are the player grades and game summary.