The Houston Rockets are doing an excellent job of beating losing
teams. They’ll get a chance to face another one Sunday when they
visit the Toronto Raptors.
Houston (13-9) improved to 7-1 against teams below .500 with a
96-91 victory over Philadelphia on Friday night in the opener of
this two-game trip. The Rockets used a 46-6 edge in bench points to
win after a poor beginning by the starters contributed to Houston’s
10-point deficit following the first quarter.
Carl Landry scored a team-high 20 points and rookie Chase
Budinger bounced back from a scoreless effort two nights earlier
against Cleveland with 15 to lead the effort by the reserves.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We
have somebody step up all the time and that’s why we’ve been able
to win a lot of games – our guys respond. I don’t think anybody
thinks of himself as a star, we’re all just playing together and
that’s why the bench is crucial for us and it certainly was
Budinger has emerged as a key reserve and leads all 2009
second-round draft picks with an 8.9 scoring average. He’s
averaging 14.3 points in his last four road games.
“I just think it just shows he’s going to be a solid player
because he really struggled against Cleveland but he came right in
tonight and twice, in the second quarter he did it and then made
two or three big shots in the fourth quarter when we needed
baskets,” Adelman said. “That’s what he’s been: he’s been a guy who
responds and it’s kind of typical of our team.”
Houston and Toronto (10-15) have split their two-game season
series the last two seasons. Raptors leading scorers Chris Bosh and
Andrea Bargnani each averaged 22.0 points and shot a combined 54.5
percent from the field in the two contests in 2008-09.
Bosh recorded his league-high 21st double-double Friday but had
a poor game with 14 points and 10 rebounds in a 111-89 home loss to
Atlanta. He averaged 25.6 points in his previous four games.
“We can circle dates on our calendar all we want to, but until
we become a better team and, individually, take the challenge a
little bit better, we’re going to stay where we are,” Bosh
The Raptors are allowing an Eastern Conference-worst 108.8
points per game, and have given up an average of 114.0 in
“It’s really frustrating,” Toronto rookie DeMar DeRozan said.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves back up and move on to the next
Raptors guard Jose Calderon, who missed the past two games with
a sore left hip, came off the bench against the Hawks and lasted
just seven minutes before aggravating the injury. Jarrett Jack
started in his place.
Toronto coach Jay Triano said Calderon had gone for further
tests and did not know whether the guard would be available
The Raptors are 3-7 against teams from the West.