-Raptor fans were hoping for a repeat performance of Tuesday night's win over the Dallas Mavericks but it was not to be. Toronto kept this one close, even leading by as many as 14 points early on, but the club ran out of gas dropping a 114 to 105 decision to the Houston Rockets this evening.
-Undermanned again, Toronto came out strong, using the same stifling defense that they displayed against the Mavericks. They limited the Rockets to only 20 first quarter points, and got their offence going thanks to easy transition buckets off said D. However Houston's bench in the second quarter ripped Toronto apart dropping a season-high 42 points on the Dinos. This got the rest of the Rockets going, and Houston never looked back.
-Houston was led scoring-wise by their bench in fact, who had 65 of the Rockets' 114 points. Toronto in contrast had only 23 bench points. Chase Budinger had a team-high 22 off the pine, but Courtney Lee, Patrick Patterson and Brad Miller all had double figure nights, and changed the tone of the game in the second Q.
-For Toronto, their leading scorer was also the team's biggest good news story of the night. DeMar DeRozan was unstoppable scoring a career-high 37 points on 12 of 21 shooting. He got some help offensively from Linas Kleiza who had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Amir Johnson (14 and 11), but overall there just wasn't enough juice in the tank for the Raps, and Houston's depth eventually wore Toronto down.
-The effort was there in this one, something Toronto fans can be proud of, but it's tough to keep playing undermanned night after night, especially with a Raptors' club that's low on talent to begin with. The Raptors' next game is Sunday back at home against the Boston Celtics so no rest for the weary. Sonny Weems and Andrea Bargnani both sound like they're close to coming back, but no word on Jerryd Bayless, who made a go of it tonight before re-tweaking that already fragile ankle.
A big Happy New Years to all of us from the HQ and thanks for another great year!
See you in 2011...