– Raptors-Rockets was an interesting “experiment,” as Nick Nurse put it. Nurse decided to try something new against James Harden. Did it work? Well, Houston won, but if Ben McLemore is going to hit eight threes against you, as Jay Triano once said, “What the F__ are you gonna do?” If I’m armchair quarterbacking, though, I’d throw a bit more OG Anunoby in single coverage against him. Anunoby has had more success against Harden than nearly any other player in the league in the past, include one spectacular defensive performance during his rookie season.
– Some would have continued to start Norman Powell, but that doesn’t seem like the right move. Kyle Lowry is a starter, period, and Fred VanVleet has had a great season and was the best Raptor on the floor.
– Sure, the Raptors were playing great without Lowry and Serge Ibaka, but it’s not like they were not going to give them their spots back once they got healthy. Anyone who expected them to fit back in seamlessly and everything to keep flowing perfectly was far too ambitious.
VanVleet put it well (no surprise there since he’s a Top 5 quote in the entire league):
“I think everybody’s a little off track of where they were before the guys came back so we’re sliding back into that, everybody will get their feet back under them and you’ll find out where your shots are coming from and step up there and knock them down,” VanVleet said. “As long as we keep generating the looks, keep making good decisions, we’ll be OK over the long run.” There’s no reason to doubt VanVleet, even if a two-game home losing streak feels a bit weird and a tough game is on tap in Philadelphia.
– Not surprisingly, that was both the most three-point makes and attempts (22 and 55, respectively) Toronto has ever conceded in a game. In the past calendar year, three teams had nailed 20 threes and three had hit 19. The previous high for makes allowed before the league’s three-point explosion was 17, several times.
– Steph Curry still holds the opponent’s record for made threes against the Raptors (nine). McLemore joined a strange group that has hit eight in a game against Toronto (McLemore, Wayne Ellington, Mickael Pietrus, who only hit 20 threes total in his 19 games as a Raptor, Ray Allen, Ryan Anderson and Sam Perkins back in the day).
– That was my third live look at the Rockets since I was lucky enough to cover the games in Tokyo, and I’m still not really sure what they are and what they are capable of. Russell Westbrook had some winning moments and notched a triple-double, but seemed to have far more bad moments. He made inexplicable shooting decisions and some rough turnovers. He opens things up for them for sure, but Westbrook also hurts them too.
– I do know P.J. Tucker is an elite role player. He’s cash money from the corners, a solid rebounder and an All-NBA caliber defender, despite a propensity to foul.
– Marc Gasol’s run of solid, but quiet play continued. He stuffed the stat-sheet and Clint Capela had one of his worst games of the season, in part because of Gasol’s work against him.
– Terence Davis flashed his athleticism and showed a bit of his football background by jetting in and going way up to rebound his own three-point miss at one point.
1 Ben McLemore
2 Fred VanVleet
3 P.J. Tucker