James Leads Raptors Past Rockets
Toronto 94, Houston 81
HOUSTON, Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- It appears opponents are taking the Toronto Raptors a bit too lightly when they come to town.
Mike James scored 19 points and Morris Peterson added 18 as the Raptors won for the fifth time in their last six road games with a 94-81 victory over the shorthanded Houston Rockets.
"If I could put my finger on our road success, we'd be winning all the time," said Peterson, who made just 5-of-15 shots. "We just have to keep continue playing hard and maybe that will carry over when we go home."
James, who played in Houston most of last season before being traded for point guard Rafer Alston during the offseason, connected on 8-of-16 shots.
"It feels good to play all the time and play well," James said. "If I just had a mediocre game and we still get the win, that's the main focus. We just wanted to win. We dug such a deep hole and now we have to find a way out of it. That is our main thing right now. We have to get out of this hole."
The Raptors used just eight players, five of whom scored in double digits.
Toronto held a 48-43 lead at intermission, widened it to 70-58 to start the fourth quarter and opened the margin to 85-67 with just under eight minutes remaining on a jumper by Chris Bosh.
Rockets superstar Tracy McGrady was held to seven points on just 2-of-11 shooting. In the absence of injured All-Star center Yao Ming, he saw double- and triple-teams all game and handed out a season-high 11 assists with eight rebounds.
Peterson would not take full credit for his defense on McGrady but accepted the challenge of guarding the two-time scoring champion.
"My teammates did a great job and our goal was to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible," Peterson said. "We wanted to keep him taking the tough shots and not give him anything easy."
"We knew we were going to give up some wide-open shots, but we told the guys that they just have to bust their hump and stick with their shooters," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "Tracy is just too good for just one guy to guard him."
Bosh had 17 points and eight rebounds and Matt Bonner scored 12 points for Toronto, which shot 48 percent (33-of-68) and nailed 9-of-21 from beyond the arc. Rookie Joey Graham scored 10 points.
Juwan Howard had a season-high 21 points and 12 rebounds and rookie Luther Head scored 20 points for the Rockets, who shot 42 percent (32-of-76). They may be without Yao for several weeks and fell to just 3-7 at home.
"I am not concerned about the offense," McGrady said. "That was not the problem tonight. It was the defense, so my offense wasn't the issue. It was the total team defense."
"Defensively, we were very, very poor," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "They committed two players on Tracy and we needed to make more (shots) than we made."