VanVleet has 32 as Raptors get 117-111 win over Rockets
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Fred VanVleet scored 32 points, Gary Trent Jr. added 29 and the Toronto Raptors snapped a two-game skid with a 117-111 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
The Raptors took a commanding lead in the third quarter and were up by double-digits for most of the fourth. But five straight free throws by the Rockets cut the lead to 110-104 with about 30 seconds left.
Pascal Siakam, who had 23 points, made two free throws after that to pad the lead.
Both teams made two free throws before Daishen Nix made a basket to slice Houston’s deficit to six again. VanVleet made one of two free throws before a 3 by Jabari Smith Jr. made it 115-111 with 1.2 seconds to go.
Trent added two free throws to secure the victory.
Nearing the end of a long road trip, Toronto coach Nick Nurse could sense his team dragging a bit early in this one. But he liked how the Raptors responded after a sluggish first quarter.
“There wasn’t a lot of energy in the building or from us at the start,” he said. “But give our guys off the bench some credit to come in and get some energy going. They kind of righted the ship and got into some good, nice stretches there of playing at both ends.”
Nurse was impressed with the performance of VanVleet, who has been playing well lately after a slow start to the season.
“He really looks good,” Nurse said. “He’s playing hard. He looks fast and athletic. … He’s shooting the ball with tremendous confidence. He’s been really good on defense, too.”
Houston got a season-high 28 points from Eric Gordon and Alperen Sengun added 21 on night when Jalen Green missed a third straight game with a bruised right calf.
A 12-5 run, with five points from Martin, got the Rockets within 98-90 with about 5½ minutes to play.
Toronto scored five of the next seven points to make it 103-92 a couple of minutes later.
Toronto had a seven-point lead at halftime and scored the first eight points of the third quarter, with 3s from Siakam and VanVleet, to make it 63-48.
Silas was disappointed with the way his team opened the second half.
“They come out and score 8 and then they’re up by 15, like right away, and that’s unacceptable,” he said. “We’ve got to start the second halves much better.”
“We have to have a better sense of urgency and we’ve got to come in with a lot of energy just like the first quarter,” he said. “It’s about dictating the game from the start and once we do, it’ll get us in a better groove.”
Gordon made a basket for Houston after that, but VanVleet made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to push the lead to 69-50 with about 9½ minutes left in the third.
An 11-3 run by the Rockets later in the third cut the lead to 74-65. But the Raptors used a 9-4 spurt to push their advantage to 83-69 with less than three minutes left in the period.
Toronto led 85-72 entering the fourth quarter.
Raptors: OG Anunoby missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left wrist. … Toronto made 15 of 39 3-pointers with 10 coming from Trent and VanVleet. … Chris Boucher had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Rockets: Silas said Green could return Saturday. … Kevin Porter Jr. was out for an 11th consecutive game with a bruised left foot. … Martin had 20 points. … Josh Christopher added 15 points off the bench.
Raptors: Wrap up a season-high seven-game road trip when they visit Memphis on Sunday.
Rockets: Visit Oklahoma City on Saturday night.
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