Reeling Rockets take on Raptors in Tampa

NBA

The Toronto Raptors, who have lost two in a row, will be out to regain their winning ways Friday night at Tampa when they play the visiting Houston Rockets, who have lost nine straight.

The Raptors had been on a four-game winning streak until losses to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively dropped them one game below the .500 mark.

The Rockets lost 112-96 Wednesday against the host Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Our defense wasn’t good, and our offense was disjointed,” Houston coach Stephen Silas said. “It wasn’t very good all around.”

The Rockets are one loss away from matching the longest losing streak of the season in the NBA. The Cavaliers ended a 10-game losing streak on Tuesday.

The Rockets have not lost 10 in a row since a 15-game losing streak Nov. 23 to Dec. 20, 2001.

In losing 116-108 at Miami on Wednesday, Raptors coach Nick Nurse felt that his team played well but “the ball bounced their way a lot.”

“I don’t think there (were) any moments where we were not good (Wednesday),” Nurse said. “I thought we were playing really hard. I thought we were searching. Yeah, we had a couple (bad) possessions here and there, but so did they. The offense gets bogged down, and there’s a late shot clock or whatever — but, no, I thought we outplayed them in almost all facets.”

“We had some key turnovers, which didn’t help,” said Raptors center Chris Boucher, who had 11 points off the bench. “When we were making a run, they’d capitalize on our mistakes. I felt like we played an extremely good game. We were almost there, just a couple mistakes away from that win. They capitalized.”

The Raptors had Kyle Lowry back in the lineup Wednesday after he had missed four games with a sprained thumb. He scored 24 points against the Heat, tying Fred VanVleet for the team lead. Pascal Siakam, however, was held to five points in 24 minutes. He was subbed out with 3:17 to play in the third quarter and did not return.

“I think we had a group that was hanging in good, making some runs,” Nurse said.

It was the fifth game in seven days for the Raptors and their 12th in 20 days.

“It feels like every day you get out of bed, there’s a game,” Nurse said before the game. “I know that’s not true, but it’s kind of what it feels like when you throw in the travel, late nights, getting in at 3:30 or getting home at 5 a.m. or whatever. It’s seemed very busy and heavy, as the schedule goes.”

With DeMarcus Cousins being waived this week, P.J. Tucker started at center for the Rockets on Wednesday and had no points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes. Tucker played 24 games for Toronto in the 2016-17 season.

“It’s definitely good for it to not be in limbo anymore,” Silas said about Cousins’ situation. “I don’t know if it was a distraction or not. I don’t really think so when it comes down to when the ball goes up and you start playing.”

Victor Oladipo returned after missing four games with a strained foot to score 17 points for Houston on Wednesday. John Wall had 20 points.

–Field Level Media

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