It was bound to happen eventually.
After calling the Raptors "the greatest team in the land", Drake also predicted that his squad would end the Rockets' 17-game winning run. The only question was whether it would come after the team has an off-night against a lousy team or some real competition. They have never owned a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, nor truly enjoyed the status of being a "favorite". Harden led Houston with 38 points, while DeRozan led Toronto with 27 points. Houston struggled to hit any shots.
The Raptors' emphasis on defending the 3-point line had them drop their big men to the rim on screens, giving up mid-range shots and an occasional drive, but keeping defenders out on the perimeter. The first came near the end of the opening quarter, when Drake addressed the crowd and guaranteed a win with almost 40 minutes of play remaining. Houston fouled Valanciunas, who made a pair to put Toronto up by 3 with 5.4 seconds to go. Get the app and get the game.
DWANE CASEY, Toronto coach, on Kyle Lowry inspiring the team with 13 first quarter points. "I'm about to go back to making this new album in Toronto just for you", Drizzy said to the crowd in front of Toronto's Budweiser stage at the 2017 OVO Festival. Harden missed a desperation three from about midcourt in a last-ditch shot.
The Raptors defense continued to hold the Rockets long-range shooter at bay in the third quarter. Harden finished second for the second time in his career last season. Going into the fourth quarter, the Raps had a far less comfortable lead, 83-75. DeRozan posted 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting and added seven boards and two dimes in 37 minutes. Kyle Lowry had a huge night and brought the streak to a conclusion.
His free throw put the Raptors up by two, but Griffin scored inside with 0.9 seconds left to tie it. The Raptors forced Ariza to pickup his dribble at the top of the key, but was bailed out by James Harden sprinting out to the Raptors half-court logo to receive a shovel pass and air-ball a desperation 3. Harden was at his extraordinary best scoring 40 points for the visitors.
HIGH BENCHMARK - As good as all-stars DeRozan and Lowry are, they and the other starters have to rest sometime. DeRozan had 23 points on the night, and Valanciunas chipped in a double-double with 14 points and ten rebounds.
Drake might have a lots of friends around the National Basketball Association, but when it comes to his Toronto Raptors, there's no better and he loves talking that trash. Houston responded by outscoring Toronto in the final three frames, but it still fell short of erasing that big early deficit. This indicates that Rockets are strong contenders for the title this season and it would take some skill to beat the Rockets in the finals that they are nearly certain to reach. But Friday night they attempted just 27 and made only nine.
But DeRozan merely disregarded the veteran forward, throwing the dunk down with both hands to give the Raptors a 113-112 edge.
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