Grades from the Toronto Raptors disappointing loss to the Houston Rockets

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Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet(Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors fell to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night as Nick Nurse’s aggressive strategy to contain James Harden led to big nights from the Rockets supporting cast.

The Toronto Raptors fell 119-109 to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night. The loss was extremely disappointing for Raptors faithful because it represents the first time this season that the Raptors have lost two games in a row. Thursday’s loss also was the Raptors’ second home loss of the season and made even more disappointing from the fact that they were outhustled and their uber-aggressive style of guarding James Harden didn’t make things any easy for them.

All things considered, there is no shame in losing to the Miami Heat or the Houston Rockets over a two-game span. But a team like the reigning NBA Champion Toronto Raptors knows the importance of homecourt advantage in the postseason and any three-game skid in 2019-20 could quickly see Toronto slip into the 5-to-6 seed range for a bit.

But all of that is for Nurse and co. to worry about down the line. Thursday night’s game was an opportunity for Nurse to see if his hyper-aggressive style of literally guarding Harden with two defenders all game long would work.

That is a tough question to answer as the strategy did what it was intended to do, but I suppose it would have to be a no considering that the Raptors lost by 10 in a game where may sportsbooks had them favored by two points.

The Raptors were able to keep Harden from having a huge scoring night but it led to a night full of wide-open shots for a bevy of Rockets’ shooters. Their Raptors’ defense even had a hot streak down the stretch where they got back into the game and they did ultimately outscore the Raptors in the third quarter but it wasn’t enough as Russell Westbrook was able to help the Rockets close out the game.

In the fourth quarter, Westbrook went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and scored 10 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists. With Pascal Siakam struggling with P.J. Tucker and the Rockets switching defense to the tune of 9-for-22 shooting, the Raptors were doomed in this one.

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