The Raptors had just dropped a game in Detroit when the surging Rockets squad came knocking at their doors. The hosts were handed their second straight loss when Harden and his Rockets sparked late to clinch an impressive 107-95 victory over them.
With their sixth straight win, Houston jumped to 39-25(0.609) on the season, right below the Nuggets and Warriors for the third spot. They are now only 5 games behind the Conference leaders in Golden State, having won seven of their previous nine games. Come to think of it, this is gigantic leap keeping in mind they were once ranked 14th on the West leaderboard.
On the other hand, the Raptors have now lost three of their last five after winning seven in a row just this past month. They trail the East-leading Bucks by 2.5 games now after the loss, and hold a 46-19(0.708) win-loss record. Having lost just 7 games at home this season, they have tasted defeat in just three of their previous ten matchups.
On that note, let's draw out some major talking points from this encounter.
#1 Harden wins the two-way battle against Kawhi and takes his team home
The Beard finished this one with 35 points to his name. This was the 39th straight game of him scoring 28 or more points in a game, which is the second-longest streak in the NBA after Wilt Chamberlain's 71 games. He shot an uncharacteristic 12-of-30 from the field and made all his 8 free-throws. Averaging 2.2 steals per game this season so far, Harden added three more of those during this game. He made 3 of his 9 three-point attempts on the night.
"I was playing well, but I wasn't shooting it well," Harden said of his performance through three quarters. "I had a lot of opportunities at the rim that I didn't convert on, so I wanted to make sure I converted on those, because that was the game right there."
Kawhi Leonard ended with 26 points and had just one steal during the course of his defensive assignment. The Claw had a fairly one-dimensional game, being able to dish out just a single assist and just one three-pointer throughout the game.