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Raptors Avoid Comeback, Defeat Rockets Without Siakam, Nurse

The Toronto Raptors are once again at the 500. mark, improving to 17-17 on the season as they defeated the Houston Rockets 122-111 on Friday night. The major headline coming into this one was the absences of five of the Raptor coaching staff, including Nick Nurse, as well as Pascal Siakam, all due to COVID-19 protocols.

As of the time of writing this, it is still unknown if Siakam’s absence from the lineup against the Rockets has any correlation to the coaching staff’s. Chris Boucher got the start in place of Siakam, and Sergio Scariolo got the nod as the acting head coach for this game.

Both teams got off to quick starts, answering each other with a barrage of three’s that led to a 30-31 finish to the first quarter, with Houston holding on to the one-point lead. The Raptors answered in the second quarter with more urgency and intensity as they opened up an eight-point lead heading into halftime.

The third quarter was more or less the same for Toronto, as they had a stretch though the third where they didn’t allow any field goals made. The fourth is where things began to get a little dicey as Houston went on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to single digits. The Raptors responded yet again, with a couple finishes at the rim by Norman Powell, and a dagger three-pointer by Fred VanVleet that put away the Rockets for good.

Powell led the way for the Raptors, putting up 30 points in 33 minutes. Fred VanVleet struggled from the field overall, shooting six-for-23 but made five of his 11 three point attempts en-route to 25 points, four rebounds, and four assists on the night.

Kyle Lowry in his second game back from injury recorded his 16th triple double as a member of the Raptors, as he finished with a stat line of 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists on an efficient six-for-nine from the field while also knocking down four of his five three-point attempts.

For the Rockets, Victor Oladipo looked close to his All-Star self, as he finished with 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists in his 36 minutes out on the court. John Wall also showed flashes of his pre-injury game as he had some quick drives to the basket. Boucher appeared to have inadvertently landed on Wall’s left ankle, prompting an injury scare, but Wall looked okay shortly after. He finished with 21 points and 12 assists.

With the win, Scariolo recorded his first win as an acting head coach in the NBA, and he may get more opportunities to coach the Raptors depending on the results of COVID-19 testing with the Raptors’ coaching staff. Up next for the Raptors, they’ll be taking on the surging Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

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