A few quick thoughts from the Toronto Raptors “signature win” of the season, a 129-113 victory over the Rockets in Houston:
OG Anunoby probably played himself into more minutes
OG Anunoby started for the injured Norman Powell, played 30 minutes (his most of the season), scored 16 points on 6-8 shooting and finished a game-high +22. Dwane Casey doesn’t generally allow injured players to lose their starting spots, but, I wonder if OG might make Casey reconsider. I mean, James Harden is an MVP candidate, but OG held him to 8-25 shooting and frustrated him into 9 turnovers (and several fouls).
The refs were… confused? And the game was a bit out of control
Speaking of fouls, 83 foul shots were taken in this game. PJ Tucker got tossed, Mike D’Antoni lost his shit multiple times, Harden was in foul trouble but still shot 19(!) free throws himself, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 26 FTs… yeah, not super-fun to watch.
Casey went 12 deep again! Even with Norm injured
Sure, Alfonso McKinnie and Lucas Nogeirua only played a combined 7 minutes. But surely those minutes could have gone to Pascal Siakam (19), Jakob Poeltl (14) or, god forbid, CJ Miles (17). Overall the Raptors are continuing a disturbing trend of playing up to the competition, with solid wins against excellent Western conference teams on the road (Portland, Utah, Houston), but blowing games to undermanned teams (Boston, Washington) and nearly blowing it against Chicago. I feel like a more consistent performance will emerge when a more consistent rotation emerges.
CJ Miles is making his case, but is Casey listening?
Miles had his best performance since the first game of the year, going 6-9 from downtown and pouring in 19 points. And yet as noted above, he only played 17 minutes. What does the guy have to do to earn more?
The Raptors three-guard lineup was effective
I am not a fan of playing Lowry, VanVleet and Delon Wright together, but it worked on this night. (I’m not a fan of playing FVV at all, at this point.) This was the unit that lead the scoring binge in the second quarter (45 points) and started off the fourth quarter strong. It may have been Delon’s best game of the year, going 5-5 from the field and playing excellent defense on Eric Gordon down the stretch. You have got to love the length that OG Anunoby and Wright bring to the table; Siakam too. When they lock in, they really are an excellent line of defense on the perimeter.
The Raptors close out this mini-trip in New Orleans against the Pelicans tonight—their first back-to-back of the season. Even if the Raps drop this one—and the Pellies will be looking for revenge after the Raps beat them last week—the Raptors will have a winning record through 14 games, which is an excellent result considering 9 of those games were on the road (8 of those against the West). Let’s hope they come through with a W either way!