The Raptors beat the Fifth seed in a strange win over the Rockets

Here are five notes from the Toronto Raptors’ 117-115 victory Friday night over the Houston Rockets.

One – the Raptors were far from their best but they did enough to beat the Rockets. They were in the hole immediately, trailing by 24 points early in the second quarter with the team’s younger players making decisions on both ends of the ground. But they regained their composure before the match became elusive, and went up again on two separate occasions to equalize, going by the bottom line at the end to claim their 48th win of the year.

The Raptors retained the fifth seed in the final week of the regular season and will face either Philadelphia or Boston on the road.

Two – it was a controversial ending at the end. Gary Trent Jr. beat the engine clock to split multiple defenders for a float to lunge forward by two with 4.8 seconds left. In the final play, the Rockets went into rookie position Alperen Sengun who had Pascal Siakam shadow him on a dip. Siakam was eventually forced to stop by intercepting Sengun’s hook, but replays showed Siakam slapped him twice on the drive, both holding Sengun across his arms while hitting the ball, then cutting him in the back as he spins.

Houston was robbed of a chance to force overtime, but they’re also holding back, so who really lost the decision?

Three – Sicam will the Raptors through a slow performance. Siakam was able to work its way through the defense, finding plenty of favorable competition against inexperienced missiles, who were unable to contain it straight. Siakam started slow, with plenty of needless friction in the paint, but he pressed the officials midway through the second quarter and took the next three calls as he drove. Even without a whistle, Sikkam was still able to reach his positions. The middle jump was not used much as there was very little resistance at times, but Siakam always made correct passes and trusted his teammates despite his cold shot performance. He finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists even though he didn’t have much to work with.

Having played in every game since returning from COVID-19 in late December, and leading 40 minutes in six of his last seven games, there’s no sense in sending Siakam to New York for the final game of the regular season this weekend. He should be watching from home with other veterans.

Fourth – Thad Young’s value is the consistency he brings. Since acclimating to his new team after the trade deadline, Young has been Nick Nurse’s insurance policy for when games get weird. The duo of Chris Boucher and Precious Achewa have been fantastic this season, but they are still fundamentally erratic players who tend to swing wildly from night to strength. Young is a certified reserve that brings certainty. He’s in all the right positions defensively, competes at a high level in his limited minutes, and plays unselfishly in attack.

Young’s push in the second quarter was the start of the comeback, creating one-sided deflections and making clever passes to attack – including a superb sequence with Siakam – to attack potentially exploitable holes in Houston’s defense. He also mixed in his own scoring with 14 points in eight attempts, mostly with his guaranteed powerful shot. Young was also huge in the clutch, as he followed a lead from Siakam to back out and broke Rocket’s full pressure on the court with a rotating hook to lift the Raptors four in the last two minutes. Young played the entirety of the second and fourth quarters, showing impressive stamina for the veteran.

Five – This was an untapped opportunity for some young players. Scotty Barnes had one of his worst games of the year but spurred on for a solid 12-point finish in the fourth quarter when he finally started playing within the attack flow. Uchiwa reverted to the old customs in the manner in which he was forced to insult them and an offensive attack was made against Sengon at the Qaim.

The biggest missed opportunity was for the point guards, as Armoni Brooks and Malachi Flynn were completely invisible except for the times they threw rival jumpers or when they slipped while trying to drive the ball. The only ones who took the chance were Justin Champagne, who showed his renewed confidence in the third corner which was one of his G-League-level development points, and reminded us of his talent for rebounding by fending off two bigger Rockets. to win possession.

The other was Utah Watanabe, who played the entire quarter-finals and swarmed all over with two steals, three rebounds and separate dipping. Unfortunately, Watanabe’s lasting impression will be Galen Green’s superhuman block, but it must be appreciated that Watanabe constantly plays with energy, something especially appreciated on a night other bench players falter.