In a game that swung wildly in the middle two frames, the fourth quarter saw the Raps cut down on turnovers, boost trips to the line and build a 91-81 lead with 5:27 to play.
But Houston came back with a 13-7 run to cut it to 98-94. Both teams swapped misses for another minute until a Jose Calderon layup restored a six-point Raptors lead. Amir Johnson then swatted away a Kyle Lowry drive on Houston's next possession to spark a fast break finish from Sonny Weems with 34 seconds to play and the win was in hand.
Another impressive performance from Andrea Bargnani, who had an efficient, focused and complete game in the win. Bargnani was locked in early (huge given the Raps' first-quarter struggles) and hit five of his first seven shots for 11 first-quarter points.
He went on to hit 11-of-17 overall from the floor for 26 points with six rebounds and four assists. The best part? Six of those 11 makes were in the paint with only one three-pointer attempted and made. He's doing an excellent job of recognizing what aspects of his skill set to use (drive, jumper, post up), given the matchup.
The Raptors reserves as a collective get the nod on this one. Led by 17 points from Linas Kleiza, the four-man unit including Jose Calderon (10 points, seven assists), Amir Johnson (10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks) and David Andersen (nine points) outscored their counterparts 46-11, played solid defence and earned the praise of their head coach.
"I thought they played really well, they were aggressive, they were better defensively," said Jay Triano. "That turned the game for us. It turned it in the second quarter and it turned it in the fourth quarter."
"No. Our goal against this team was to try to be aggressive by taking the ball to the basket, get Andrea looks down low and inside, and had DeMar and Sonny drive the ball when they get a chance, post up Kleiza when we had a chance. When you do that kind of thing you can get to the free-throw line."
- Jay Triano, on anything said halftime about zero free throws
Sun., Nov.19 vs. Celtics
1 PM ET, Sporsnet Ontario, FAN590
The Raptors try and overcome a team that's definitely had their number of late as they face their division rivals from Boston for the first time this season. The Celtics have gotten off to a 9-3 start, but are coming off an 89-84 loss at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Raptors aim to reverse a slide against the Celtics that has seen them drop eight straight meetings against the C's and 12 of the last 13 matchups overall.
|4||Consecutive wins for the Raptors over the Rockets at Air Canada Centre|
|+45||Bench scoring differential for the Raptors vs. their last two opponents.|
|0||First-half free throws from the Raptors|
|30||Second-half free throws from the Raptors|
|1||Number of Raptors turnovers in the fourth quarter|
|"Coach is putting me in the right positions. He is running plays for me late in the game and putting trust in me to get to the free throw line and that is what I'm trying to do."|
- Jose Calderon, on how his defence is perceived
|"We have got to stay positive and start winning and keep fighting. We have like, 69 games left, it's a lot of games. There is a lot of basketball left."|
- Linas Kleiza on turning things around
|"Coach Jay said try and stay away from foul trouble and pound the ball inside and drive. We took the ball against their bigs and we knew they weren't shot blockers so we definitely took advantage of that."|
- Amir Johnson, on the team's mindset in the 2nd half