Toronto, ON (Sports Network) – Andrea Bargnani scored 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting, as the Toronto Raptors beat the Houston Rockets, 106-96, to start their first winning streak of the season.
DeMar DeRozan added 15 points for the Raptors, who were coming off Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia and recorded only their fourth victory of the season.
Linas Kleiza netted 17 points to lead a strong Toronto bench. Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon each scored 10 in a reserve role.
Kevin Martin matched a season high with 31 points for Houston, which has lost three in a row. Kyle Lowry equaled a career high with 12 assists, adding 11 points and seven rebounds.
“We put people in games, and they’ve got to step up for us,” said Houston head coach Rick Adelman. “This is the NBA. If you’re not scoring, you’ve got to do something else.”
With the lead changing hands and control up for grabs a few minutes into the fourth quarter, Toronto seized the opportunity, taking advantage of Houston misses and a few turnovers to go on an 11-0 run. Johnson ended it with a free throw for a 91-81 lead with 5:27 to play.
The Rockets scored the next six to keep the game close, and the margin was one or two possessions down the stretch. Luis Scola’s basket with 2:01 remaining got Houston within 98-94, but both teams missed their next two shots.
Toronto gained possession just inside the final minute, and Calderon used a screen to drive down the right side of the lane and bank in a layup with 43.9 seconds to play. Sonny Weems threw down a fastbreak dunk after a blocked shot to punctuate the victory.
Bargnani poured in 11 points in the back-and-forth first quarter, helping the Raptors take a 28-27 edge.
Near the midway point of the second quarter, Kleiza hit a turn-around hook shot that sparked an eight-point burst. Kleiza followed with a jumper, and two Bargnani buckets increased the Raptors’ lead to 47-34.
The Rockets, however, scored seven in a row later in the quarter and entered halftime facing a 51-43 hole.
The deficit reduction helped Houston assume control in the third quarter with a 15-2 run. Martin drained a pair of three-pointers and ended the rally with two free throws, giving the Rockets a 60-55 advantage with 7:02 left.
They continued to play in front until Toronto scored the final seven points of the quarter, which put the Raptors back on top, 75-74.
Toronto made 20-of-30 from the foul line, but did not attempt a free throw in the first half…It was announced Friday that Houston center Yao Ming will miss at least another two weeks after a thorough exam of his surgically repaired right foot. Yao has played in only five games this season after missing all of 2009-10 due to his injured left foot…These teams have split the two-game season series in each of the past four years…Weems ended with 13 points…Scola added 19 for Houston.
Commiserate with fellow Rockets fans at The Dream Shake.