Rookies roll as Rockets rip Raptors

League: NBA

Posted on: 03 Feb, 2024 at 05:09 AM

Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Alperen Sengun nearly notched a triple-double while rookies Cam Whitmore and Amen Thompson combined for 44 points off the bench as the Houston Rockets rolled to a 135-106 victory over the visiting Toronto Raptors on Friday.

Sengun had 24 points, 13 rebounds and a team-high eight assists while serving as the linchpin for a breakneck offense that attacked the paint and punished Toronto in transition.

The Rockets recorded 20 fastbreak points and 84 points in the paint while shooting 59.1 percent from the floor. Houston ran with abandon throughout, doing so off misses and turnovers.

Whitmore (career-high 25 points, two steals) and Thompson (career-high 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists) were beneficiaries. Thompson shot 9 of 11 overall and was 6 of 6 for 12 first-half points.

The Raptors, playing without RJ Barrett (knee), fought uphill the entire game.

Sengun gave the Rockets a 22-13 lead with a three-point play at the 4:17 mark of the first quarter. Houston extended the margin to 37-23 entering the second when Fred VanVleet perfectly executed a two-for-one, drilling two jumpers inside the final 29.1 seconds, including a 22-footer at the buzzer.

Houston rode an 11-4 run to a 55-33 lead with 4:54 remaining in the first half. The last three baskets during that surge all came at the rim, with Thompson scoring twice in the paint before Sengun snagged a defensive rebound and finished with a layup on the other end of the court.

When the Raptors showed a bit of life with a 9-2 run, the Rockets answered with a Thompson dunk, a three-point play from Jabari Smith Jr. and a hook shot from Sengun, who assisted on the two prior baskets. The sequence allowed Houston to recapture a 22-point lead.

Toronto fashioned one final surge in the third quarter, clawing within 84-69 on two Scottie Barnes free throws at the 4:59 mark. The Rockets eliminated all doubt with a 16-0 blitz that featured two Whitmore 3-pointers, two Thompson dunks and a 3-pointer from Sengun, who also sank two free throws.

Barnes led the Raptors with 28 points and seven boards, while Immanuel Quickley chipped in 25 points and six assists. Toronto lost for the sixth time in the past seven games.

Houston has alternated losses and wins over the past six games.

--Field Level Media