Raptors 109-119 Rockets: Westbrook records triple-double

Toronto Raptors 109-119 Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook records a triple-double as James Harden scores 23 points in NBA win for visitors

  • Houston Rockets ran out 119-109 winners over Toronto Raptors on Thursday 
  • James Harden and Russell Westbrook helped the Rockets to end a losing streak
  • The Raptors’ plan to double-team Harden didn’t pay off for the Canadians 

No matter what, the Toronto Raptors were determined to double-team James Harden.

The rest of the Houston Rockets made sure that strategy didn’t pay off.

Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, Harden shook off a slow start to score 23 and the Rockets beat the Raptors 119-109 on Thursday night, snapping a three-game away losing streak.

Houston Rockets came out on top in NBA action against Toronto Raptors on Thursday night 

James Harden’s 23 points helped the Rockets end a barren three game loss streak

Ben McLemore had a season-high 28 points, P.J. Tucker added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Danuel House Jr scored 16 as Houston handed Toronto its second consecutive home loss after a franchise record of nine straight wins to begin the season.

With Harden drawing an extra defender every time he had the ball, his play-making skills were more important than points for once.

‘James, to his credit, didn’t force anything,’ Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. ‘He said, “OK, double me and my teammates will score tonight,” and they did it.’

Toronto guard Fred VanVleet said the Raptors have ‘definitely stretched the spectrum’ with creative defensive schemes this season.

Russell Westbrook also contributed a triple-double to down the Canadian franchise 

‘This was one of those things that didn’t go our way,’ VanVleet said. ‘If we would have scored 11 more points, we’d be geniuses and the defence was the best thing in the world and we’d be Harden-stoppers.’

Harden shot 7 for 11, his fewest attempts of the season, and failed to finish as Houston’s leading scorer for the second time. The only other time was an opening-night loss to Milwaukee in which Harden shot two for 13 and scored a season-low 19 points.

‘We’ve seen so many different defences throughout the course of the year,’ Harden said. ‘Tonight was our first time seeing this defence. Guys did an unbelievable job of moving their bodies and being ready to shoot.’

McLemore set a career high by making eight 3-pointers on 17 attempts. Tucker matched his season high with five made 3s. Houston finished 22 for 55 from long range.

‘When you’re giving guys, NBA pros, open looks like that, it’s tough,’ House said. ‘Especially the amount of time that we had, guys are going to shoot. They were just knocking them down all night.’

Harden landed hard after being elbowed in the head on his drive to end the third quarter. He was tended to by trainers before getting to his feet and slowly walking to the locker room, but returned two and a half minutes into the final period.

Norman Powell and Kyle Lowry complain to an official as the Raptors fell to defeat 

‘He got an elbow off his temple,’ D’Antoni said. ‘They checked for a concussion but obviously he was fine.’

Pascal Siakam scored 24 points, VanVleet had 20 and Kyle Lowry 19 as the Raptors lost back-to-back regular-season home games for the first time since losing to Oklahoma City and Charlotte last March 22 and 24.

Lowry shot 2 for 18 in Tuesday’s overtime loss to Miami, his first game after missing 11 because of a broken left thumb.

The five-time All-Star fared better against the Rockets, making five of eight attempts, including three of five from long range. He shot six for six at the free throw line and led his team with eight assists.

Back-to-back baskets by Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell brought Toronto to 101-100 with 8:39 to play, but Harden and Tucker scored six points apiece as the Rockets pulled away with a 12-2 run over the next two minutes.

After following up his season-high 60-point performance in Saturday’s win over Atlanta with a 50-point effort in Tuesday’s overtime loss at San Antonio, Harden was held in check early by Toronto’s zone defence. 

Houston’s star guard didn’t attempt his first shot until a fast-break layup with 4:07 left in the first quarter. It was his only field goal attempt of the opening period.

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