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RaptorsHQ Rapid Recap - Houston Rockets 88 - Toronto Raptors 85

-The Toronto Raptors kicked off the second half of their season much like the first...with a loss. Well, technically, the Raps were coming off a win right before the All-Star break, but considering the bulk of their games so far have been losses...well...

-In any event, Toronto fought this one out to the finish, as they have much of the season, but came up on the short end, dropping an 88 to 85 decision to the Rockets in Houston. Kyle Lowry led all scorers with 26 points in the win, and he got double-digit scoring help from Luis Scola (15), Samuel Dalembert (10), and Kevin Martin (14).

-However this loss wasn't due to Toronto's inability to keep Houston from scoring. The Raps actually held the Rockets to under 40 per cent shooting from the field. No, this one came with a familiar story; an early first quarter deficit that proved to be insurmountable, and a lack of free-throw attempts. The Raps got down 27 to 15 after one, and just couldn't get over the hump after that. And the Rockets 28 to 18 advantage in terms of free-throw attempts made up for the team's struggles from the field.

-Throw on 15 turnovers for the Raps and an inability to make big shots in the clutch, including a boggled game-tying attempt in the match's final seconds, and that was it.

-For the Raps, DeMar DeRozan had 17 points, but was only six of 14 from the field and failed to see the court in the fourth quarter. (Which he didn't seem very happy about.) The same was true for Jose Calderon who played only 24 minutes, only returning on the game's final possession. It will be interesting to see why coach Dwane Casey went this route in terms of sitting two of his key players, but there was no question the Raps were doing fine without them. James Johnson had 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, and the line-up of he, Linas Kleiza and Amir Johnson gave the Rockets problems defensively.

-Again though, getting down by 12 against a very good defensive team like Houston just isn't a great idea, and regardless of a solid second half, this makes for loss number 24 on the season.

-Luckily, tomorrow is a new day and the Raps get to take on the 8 and 26 New Orleans Hornets...