With multiple players traded out and a few traded in, the Raptors were a little short-handed tonight. While Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji were available for the game, they did not play after travelling into Toronto from Utah earlier in the day.
Aside from those two, the Raptors are also down two roster spots after the trades went through. The team has not filled those spots yet, but said that they will be looking at young and rising talent to monitor over the rest of the season with those spots.
In town were the Houston Rockets and Fred VanVleet, though VanVleet did not play due to an injury. Canadian National team legend Dillon Brooks DID play though, is first time in Toronto since winning bronze at the FIBA World Cup with Canada last summer.
On the Raptors’ side, they started RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., and Jakob Poeltl.
It was a fast paced first quarter, as the Raptors tried to take advantage of the fact the Houston was missing its leader in VanVleet. Houston struggled to organize themselves on offence were letting the Raptors sneak into the lanes on defence.
The Raptors led 34-22 after one quarter.
Raptors up 14 after the 1st quarter— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) February 10, 2024
Rockets have looked like a team missing their starting PG.
The Rockets came out strong in the second quarter, completely knocking out Toronto’s lead and getting ahead.
The Raptors quickly recovered though, regaining the lead — once the starters checked in again of course.
RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley were getting it going for the Raptors offence, and by halftime Quickley led Toronto in scoring 15 points, having made 3-7 three point shots.
Raptors starters have really handled business here tonight— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) February 10, 2024
Building chemistry and figuring each other out on the floor — maybe the best they’ve looked as a group
Barrett shot 5-for-6 form the field in the first half, racking up 12 points. Toronto led 61-49 after the first half.
The Raptors extended their lead to 20-points in the third quarter, with RJ Barrett continuing to be dominant in the paint. His physicality and crafty footwork has really helped the Raptors since he was traded onto the team just over a month ago.
RJ barrelling his way into traffic, scoring at will and making plays out of it— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) February 10, 2024
IQ and Jak 2-man game has been elite all night, IQ just killing it in the PnR
Scottie making some nice reads as a playmaker
Fun offensive game from Austrian BBQ
The Rockets were able to mount a bit of a comeback in the fourth quarter, bringing the game within ten points with just under six minutes to go.
It was Canadian Dillon Brooks who made back to back three’s to get the Rockets back within two possessions of Toronto with four minutes to go. It started getting messy with turnovers as both teams scrambled to get stops.
It was a five point game with one minute to go, but a nifty save from Jakob Poeltl to avoid a turnover helped Toronto avoid letting the Rockets make the game even closer.
The Rockets were able to get it within four, leading to a series of coaches’ challenges from both sides as the clock wound down.
Dillon Brooks clearly LOVES playing in Toronto, bring the man HOME!— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) February 10, 2024
...and of COURSE it was Dillon Brooks AGAIN to make the three to bring the Rockets within one point, mere seconds left on the clock. The Rockets had possession with 2.2 left on the clock, down three.
Toronto’s defence was able to get a stop in the end, avoiding a late game crumble. Raptors win 107-104 over the Houston Rockets.
Highlights of the Game
Quickley was the Raptors’ highest scorer with 25 points, two assists, four rebounds, and one steal, shooting 4-for-9 from three and ending the night with a +21 rating.
He seems to be settling into his role as the primary guard for this team, and his energy and efficiency is what helped the Raptors get up big at points in this game.
As one of the newest core members of this team, they will look to him night in and night out to boost them — but even more so now that they don’t really have a backup option for him. After Dennis Schroder was traded prior to the deadline Thursday, IQ is essentially the only true point guard on the team who will get heavy minutes.
For now, Scottie Barnes will assume more of those back up duties — but Quickley’s responsibilities will still increase.
With the deadline behind us, Gradey Dick is set to get more minutes than he has his whole rookie season. The 20-year-old has had rocky time at points in the season, but it’s starting to come together now.
The team has been extremely intentional with the way they have developed Gradey during his rookie season. He’s done stints with the 905, specialized bulking programs, and more to get him into NBA shape.
Tonight his six points weren’t too flashy, but you can see the pieces coming together for him. His minutes look more intentional, his decision-making more clear, and he seems a bit more confident out there.
As the Raptors play him more and more now that we are into the final stretch of the season, those skills will just continue to blossom.
The Raptors will be back tomorrow night for another home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.