Houston Rockets: Player grades from narrow loss to Toronto Raptors

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images) /

Some players stood out as the Houston Rockets surrendered a 17-point lead to fall 134-129 to the Toronto Raptors in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The Toronto Raptors used a 54-35 rebounding edge to help them come back against the Houston Rockets to steal a victory in the first of their two Japan games.

Both teams came out hot in the first half, particularly James Harden for the Rockets and Pascal Siakam for the Raptors. Harden started the contest shooting 6-for-6 from the field until eventually missing a step-back three. The Beard finished the first quarter with 21 points and played some excellent post defense throughout.

Houston demonstrated excellent ball movement in the second quarter, frequently swinging the ball around the perimeter to find the best possible shot. With four or five shooters often on the floor together, good spacing and ball movement will make the Rockets’ offense scary as they continue to get used to playing together.

In a high-scoring first half, the Rockets went into the locker room up 85-73 behind 27 points from Harden as both teams shot well from the field.


Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni used the second half and particularly the fourth quarter to get a closer look at his bench and fringe players. Under a lineup of Austin Rivers, Ryan Anderson, Chris Clemons, Ben McLemore and Jaron Blossomgame, Houston allowed the Raptors to come all the way back to take the lead with five minutes remaining.

A closing lineup of Blossomgame, Clemons, Isaiah Hartenstein, Gary Clark and Shamorie Ponds couldn’t quite pull off the win, as the Rockets gave up a lead that was once 17 to fall to Toronto 134-129.

Clearly, as the regular season approaches, the coaching staff is starting to give more minutes to the players on the bubble of making this Houston Rockets squad. Fortunately, some players are making the most out of these opportunities.

Next: The Starters