For their final regular season game at home, the Raptors toyed with the emotions of fans at Scotiabank Arena. Very largely dominated in the first half, with a gap that rose to +24, Nick Nurse’s men recovered after the break, and finally achieved, after an excellent “money-time”, the third biggest comeback in franchise history.
Bad in defense for three quarters, the Raptors raised their tone in the last act (7/17 on shots for Houston), like the excellent defense of Pascal Siakam (29 points at 12/24 on shots , 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals) on the Rockets’ final possession, a low-post equalizer from rookie Alperen Sengun.
With this victory, and thanks to Chicago’s loss to Charlotte in parallel, Toronto is guaranteed to finish 4th or 5th in the Eastern Conference. They will challenge the Celtics or the Sixers.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– The Houston Paradox. The Rockets lost that game…despite leading the Raptors in most major statistical categories: 53.1% shooting to 45.8%, 50 rebounds to 46, 24 assists to 20. The categories in which the Raptors have the advantage ? Interceptions (13 against 6) and blocks (4 against 3). In other words, defense, not the Rockets’ cup of tea.
– End of series for Jalen Green. After five games in a row at 30 points or more, the Rockets rookie could match Allen Iverson. Unfortunately for him, he completely failed, unable to get rid of the cobweb of the Raptors, a very large and athletic formation. Nick Nurse wisely made the choice to systematically place a player taller than him (Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam and even Precious Achiuwa) against Jalen Green.
✅ Pascal Siakam. Another huge game from the Cameroonian, who finished the season very well. Not far from the triple-double (29 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists), the strong winger carried the attack of his formation, and signed the decisive defensive action in the last seconds. Lately, he has been playing at the level he was at during his excellent 2019/20 season, to the delight of Raptors fans, who are campaigning, by the nickname “PascALL-NBA”, for their star to be rewarded in one of the All-NBA Team soon.
✅ Kevin Porter Jr.. While Jalen Green, his “backcourt” friend, was holed up, “KPJ” delivered a very good copy: 35 points (12/23 and 7/7 on free throws) and 10 assists! Naturally attracted to scoring, the former Cavaliers player strives to involve his teammates in Houston as much as possible, where he plays point guard. Against the largely permissive Raptors defense that night, he did it brilliantly.
✅ Josh Christopher. More often seen in the G-League than in the NBA this season, the former resident of Arizona State is taking advantage of the Rockets’ unchallenged season to show up for next season. In half an hour of play off the bench, he compiled 20 points (9/12), 5 rebounds and 4 assists).
⛔️ Jalen Green. Complicated evening for the second choice of the last draft, which stops his counter at 8 points, at 3/10 on shots. Rather on pace in the first quarter, he then disappeared, failing to weigh on the Rockets’ attack until the end of the game.
Toronto (48-33): last trip of the regular season, in New York on Sunday
Houston (20-61): Sunday, last game of the season at home, against Atlanta