The Houston Rockets had their NBA season-best winning streak end at 17 games with a 108-105 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors got off to an excellent start, taking a 32-16 lead into the second quarter.
The Rockets, winners of 17 straight, trail the Raptors 32-16 after the 1st quarter.
It's the fewest points scored by Houston and the largest deficit it has faced after the 1st quarter all season.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 10, 2018
And it appeared the Raptors were going to pull away when they took a nine-point lead into the final five minutes of the quarter. But the Rockets have James Harden, and the NBA MVP candidate decided to turn things up a notch. Harden — who had 40 points on the night — hit a couple nasty stepback threes to lead the Rockets on a 9-0 and tie the game 102-102.
— NBA (@NBA) March 10, 2018
James Harden with the 3 to tie the game late in the fourth ? pic.twitter.com/X0CBS0yBOu
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) March 10, 2018
Well, the Raptors have a star guard themselves in DeMar DeRozan, and he nailed this fadeaway with the shot clock running down to give Toronto the lead back.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 10, 2018
And on the final play, the Raptors got some help from Drake to hold off the Rockets.
Drake was in Ariza's ear ? pic.twitter.com/sYCzpzUOoR
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 10, 2018
So, that put an end to the Rockets’ remarkable streak, and maybe will bring more attention to what the Raptors are doing.
The Raptors now have a seven-game winning streak and have won 14 of their last 15 games. Their 48-17 record is the best in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games ahead of the Boston Celtics. And their 28-5 home record is the best in the NBA, which is particularly a big factor to keep in mind if they get the No. 1 seed in the East.
Most of us (*raises hand*) have doubted the Raptors as a true title contender and even a true contender to come out of the East in the playoffs, and with their recent history in the playoffs (after good regular seasons), it’s hard not to.
But perhaps it’s time to take the Raptors seriously, especially in an up-for-grabs Eastern Conference. And they’re now 2-0 vs the Rockets, a team they could see in The Finals.
Raptors vs the Rockets this season: 2-0.
Rest of the NBA vs the Rockets: 12-51.
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) March 10, 2018
The Raptors will look to extend their winning streak to eight games when they take on the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.