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Houston Rockets Defeat Raptors with 4th Quarter Rally

Jan 8, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after sinking a basket during a 129-122 win over Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after sinking a basket during a 129-122 win over Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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James Harden records 10th triple-double of the season as the Houston Rockets defeat the Toronto Raptors in fourth-quarter rally.

Rudy Tomjanovich once taught the world to never underestimate the heart of a champion. 22 years later, his message still rings true today.

Although they did not capture that elusive title, the Houston Rockets (30-9) played like champions to defeat the Toronto Raptors (24-13) Sunday at The Air Canada Centre . With their late fourth-quarter rally, the Rockets have now expanded their winning streak to eight games.

122. 81. . 129. 169

In order to slow down the league’s top shooting team, the Raptors made some early changes to their lineup. With Norman Powell and DeMarre Carroll, Toronto thought they had the perfect formula to defend the Rockets.

Despite the Rockets jumping out to an early lead, it wasn’t long before Toronto’s defense made it a miserable night for Houston. The Rockets got off to a horrendous start, shooting 0-for-6 from behind the arc, as well as giving up 37 first quarter points to the Raptors.

Although the Rockets would trail by 13 midway through the second quarter, they were able to close the first half on a strong note. Led by Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza, Houston went into the break with the momentum in their favor.

Notwithstanding the 14 third quarter points scored by James Harden, the Raptors still managed to gain a 99-95 lead over the Rockets going into the fourth. They scored 36 points in the quarter as a team.

While the Rockets experienced one of their worst shooting nights of the season during the first three quarters, Houston must have had a case of amnesia heading into the fourth.  After two quick baskets by Gordon and Ariza, the Rockets took the lead early in the final frame and never looked back.

They went on a 15-0 run to take an 11-point lead. This was despite a personal 12 consecutive points by Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan. Unfortunately for Toronto, DeRozan’s scoring ability was not enough to cut into Houston’s lead. The Raptors could get no closer than five points.

Players of the Game

PG. Houston Rockets. JAMES HARDEN. A. As expected, James Harden had a phenomenal performance against his childhood friend and rival DeMar DeRozan. Even during the Rockets’ struggles through the first three-quarters, Harden had a great performance scoring 32 points. However, his biggest impact on the game came on the defensive end. He had two huge steals and drew a charge to seal a win for the Rockets. Overall, another MVP performance by The Beard. 40 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds.

A+. It was a solid performance for the Rockets’ bench as a whole. However, <a rel=. C. Houston Rockets. MONTREZL HARRELL

A. Much like Harden, DeMar DeRozan put on a show against his childhood friend and rival. Although they came out on the losing end, DeRozan prove why he is one of the top guards in the league today. With 36 points on the nights, DeRozan set up a career-high for most 30-point performances in a single season with 18. With Harden and DeRozan taking over the shooting guard position this season, perhaps the best ball players are found in southern California. 36 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists.. SG. Toronto Raptors. DEMAR DEROZAN

Following the win, the Houston Rockets will look to expand their winning streak Tuesday against the Charlotte Hornets in Houston.

Next: Coach D’Antoni resurrected in Houston

Enjoy the season Red Nation and be sure to stay connected with Space City Scoop as our team of writers keep you on top of all things Houston Rockets.

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