Rap­tors cool off Rock­ets

DEROZAN SCORES 27 AS RAP­TORS WIN

Lethbridge Herald - - SPORTS - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS — HOUS­TON

The Toronto Rap­tors have strug­gled to close out games against good teams this sea­son.

They solved that Tues­day night, get­ting 27 points from DeMar DeRozan while hold­ing off the Rock­ets 129-113 de­spite a cou­ple late runs by Hous­ton.

Just as im­por­tant, DeRozan thinks he knows the key for Toronto hold­ing leads go­ing for­ward.

“Lik­ing this feel­ing,” he said. “You’ve got to love this feel­ing so you don’t got to go out there hav­ing too many of them close games that you lost, feel­ing up­set, got to wait un­til the next game. You’ve got to want to con­tinue to have this feel­ing and that should work out ev­ery­thing else.”

Toronto led by 12 at half­time and had to re­peat­edly shut down rally at­tempts from the Rock­ets.

“Con­sis­tency in this league is a hard thing to grab, and that’s what we’ve got to reach for, grab for each and every night,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “If we could bot­tle tonight, the en­ergy, the tough­ness, the to­geth­er­ness we had tonight, it (would be) spe­cial.”

James Harden had 38 points and made 19 of 19 foul shots for the Rock­ets, who ended a sixgame win­ning streak.

“We weren’t sharp,” Hous­ton coach Mike D’An­toni said. “Some­times you let down and it’s hard to turn it back on. We tried, we got close in the sec­ond half, but we just didn’t have enough.”

Hous­ton scored six straight points, in­clud­ing three free throws from Harden, to make it 108-103 with about 7 1/2 min­utes left.

Delon Wright made a free throw for the Rap­tors soon af­ter that, and OG Anunoby con­nected for Toronto’s first field goal in more than three min­utes on a 3-pointer with 6:25 re­main­ing. Af­ter Wright’s layup, Kyle Lowry stole the ball from Harden, and DeRozan fin­ished on the other end with a dunk to make it 116-103.

Harden got Hous­ton go­ing again with a four-point play. The free throw was his 19th, set­ting a fran­chise record for most foul shots with­out a miss in a game.

DeRozan and Serge Ibaka had back-to-back dunks af­ter Harden’s big play to make it 120107 with about three min­utes left and send many of the home fans to­ward the ex­its.

Harden had 11 as­sists and six re­bounds. He has scored at least 20 points and had seven or more as­sists in every game this sea­son.

The Rap­tors scored the first five points of the sec­ond half to make it 81-64 and pushed their lead to 19 points mid­way through the third.

Toronto led by 21 be­fore Hous­ton made five straight points, capped by a 3-point play by Tarik Black. That was the start of a nice run for the Rock­ets, and they used a 9-3 spurt af­ter that to cut the lead to 97-87. Harden made four points in that span.

Hous­ton led by eight points dur­ing the first half, but the Rap­tors used a 45-point sec­ond quar­ter to take a 76-64 edge into half­time.

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