Lethargic Raptors hold on to beat Rockets 116-109

TORONTO – Fred VanVleet and O.G. Anunoby combined for 59 points to drag the lethargic Toronto Raptors to a 116-109 victory over the lowly Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

VanVleet had seven three-pointers en route to 32 points, while Anunoby scored 27 and grabbed nine rebounds in Toronto’s third game without injured all-star forward Pascal Siakam.

The Raptors (7-5) got 14 points from newcomer Otto Porter Jr., while Scottie Barnes chipped in with 13, and Gary Trent Jr. finished with 11.

Jalen Green scored 21 to top the Rockets (2-10), who had seven players score in double figures.

The Raptors played like they were expecting a light night against the league’s worst team. They were wrong.

They trailed by 12 early on, before coming to life in a second quarter punctuated by a series of Anunoby dunks. On one, the Raptors forward bulldozed through three Rockets to the hoop for a huge slam that had the Scotiabank Centre crowd screaming.

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VanVleet scored on a 28-footer, and threw a glance at the Rockets bench as the ball fell, giving Toronto a 12-point advantage. But that had dwindled to just 86-82 to to start the fourth.

The Rockets hung around in the fourth before back-to-back threes from Porter gave Toronto seven points of breathing room with 5:07 to play. Anunoby’s alley-oop dunk from Thad Young made it a nine-point difference, and then Barnes’ put-back jam with 1:38 to play, for an eight-point lead, was enough to secure the win.

Siakam, meanwhile, is expected to be out at least two weeks with a strained adductor muscle.

The Raptors looked disinterested on defence in the first quarter, allowing the Rockets to shoot 70 per cent and take an 11-point lead late in the frame. Houston led 37-29 to start the second.

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The Rockets stretched their lead to 12 early in the second quarter, but the Raptors finally mustered some energy, closing the half with 28-13 run to take a 57-54 advantage into the break.


Coach Nick Nurse wants more from Precious Achiuwa. He said he had a long meeting with the struggling forward, and showed him numerous video clips of where his defence could have been better. “He just needs to play better, man,” Nurse said pre-game. “I’m always talking about playing hard on D and not executing. And he’s just having too much inconsistency. Some nights he’s unbelievable, he’s into the game and doing it all. Some nights he’s not doing very much of it.”


As part of the Raptors, first-ever Indigenous Heritage Night, the anthems were performed by Shawnee Kish, a Mohawk singer-songwriter and wife of retired Canadian rugby star Jen Kish, and Snotty Nose Rez Kids, rappers from Kitimat, B.C., performed at halftime.


The Raptors depart for three games on the road, beginning Friday at Oklahoma City. They play in Indiana on Saturday and Detroit on Monday before returning home to host Kyle Lowry and the Miami Heat on Nov. 16.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2022.

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&© 2022 The Canadian Press

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