NBA Full Game: result Houston Rockets vs Toronto Raptors score , replay, highlights, recap March 6, 2016.
TORONTO — For the Houston Rockets, sitting in the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth, this wasn’t so much a nice win as a must-win.
“From here on out there’s 20 games left, so each and every game counts, so we’ve got to find a way to come away with wins,” James Harden said.
Harden had 40 points and 14 assists, and the Rockets beat Toronto 113-107 on Sunday night to end the Raptors’ franchise-record, 12-game home winning streak.
Corey Brewer added 23 points off the bench, while Dwight Howard chipped in with 21 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“I think we just locked in defensively,” he said. “As long as we can do that, communicate on defense, and on offense move and screen for each other, we’ll put ourselves in position to win every game.”
The victory, Houston’s first in Canada since the 2006-07 season, was also Toronto’s first loss at the Air Canada Centre since Jan. 3 against the Chicago Bulls.
For Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff, it’s the kind of win that his team can build upon, and it was inspired by a greater defensive focus after halftime.
“The second half was key,” he said. “After giving up (a) 30-point first quarter (and 31-point) second quarter, the third and fourth quarters we held them to the low 20s and that’s a sign of who we can be.”
Having led from just before the seven-minute mark in the first quarter until Trevor Ariza’s 3-point shot with 4:43 to play, Toronto coach Dwane Casey was upset at his team’s inability to close out leads, a bad habit that he feels is going to continually undermine his team.
“That’s been our weakness all year,” he said. “I’ve said that millions of times. We’ve luckily won some of these games, but I’ve always said it’s going to come back and bite us.”
Luis Scola led the way for the Raptors with 21 points, one shy of his season high, with DeMar DeRozan adding 19. DeRozan’s efforts were more focused on slowing down Harden, a tough task for any defender in the NBA.
“It’s tough,” he said. “You have to react to everything he does offensively. Whenever he’s driving, whenever he’s being aggressive you have to try and slow him down.”
After seeing the Rockets start slowly, Bickerstaff took it upon himself to try and put some jump into his team. With Howard called for a flagrant offensive foul on Kyle Lowry in the second quarter, Bickerstaff picked up a technical foul for arguing with the officials.
For the interim Rockets coach, it was an opportunity to reinforce to his team, down by 13 at the time, that quitting was not an option.
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