Raptors, Rockets both looking to rebound from OT losses

NBA

Both teams will be coming off overtime losses when the Houston Rockets visit the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night.

The Raptors were blown out by the Miami Heat 13-2 in the overtime period in their 121-110 home loss on Tuesday.

The Rockets squandered a 22-point lead at San Antonio and lost 135-133 Tuesday to the Spurs in a game marred by a controversial call.

The controversy came with the Rockets leading by 13 with 7:50 left in the fourth quarter when a breakaway dunk by James Harden, who had 50 points for the game, was ruled no basket.

“(The officials) said the ball hit James and went back through, so it was goaltending on James,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “So, I said, ‘I challenge that.’ Then, I didn’t get a response. Then, another guy said it wasn’t a goaltending. It went out of bounds on us, so I said, ‘I’ll challenge that.’ I didn’t get an explanation.”

Crew chief James Capers, speaking to a pool reporter, said that after reviewing the play after the game the basket should have counted, but the Rockets did not challenge the call quickly enough.

“To have a successful field goal it must clear the net,” Capers said. “We have since come in here and looked at the play. He dunked it so hard that the net carried it back over the rim a second time, so in fact it did clear the net and should have been a successful field goal.”

But he said the challenge was not made within the required 30 seconds.

Harden followed that play with a 3-pointer for a 16-point Houston lead. But D’Antoni said even before the controversial play, his team had lost focus.

“Obviously that just added to the circumstances,” D’Antoni said. “We quit playing defense. We quit getting back. We turned it over silly and didn’t get back. Then they got hot and started making shots and we didn’t combat it.”

“We just stopped playing,” Harden said. “They gained confidence.”

The Rockets will be facing a Raptors team that also will have plenty of motivation. They had a seven-game winning streak end with the loss to the Heat. It also was their first home loss of the season in 10 games. The nine-game home winning streak was a franchise record to open a season.

Toronto had Kyle Lowry back in the lineup Tuesday after he had missed 11 games with a fractured thumb. He had 12 points and 11 assists in his return.

Lowry shot only 2-for-18 from the field, however.

“That was terrible,” he said. “That’s rhythm, I missed shots. I mean honestly I didn’t force anything, I don’t think. I think everything I shot came within the offense and honestly a lot of those 3s went in and out. Layups, it’s just rhythm and a little bit of timing. … But I’m sure I’ll be better next game.”

The Raptors’ defense has done well in limiting their opponents’ top scorers this season and Harden will be a challenge. They will need to be better than they were against the Heat.

“We just didn’t have the greatest energy I didn’t think, especially in the first half,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought they were trying pretty hard in the second half and it was just one of those games where it wasn’t quite bouncing our way.”

–Field Level Media

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