The Houston Rockets continue to get by without Dwight Howard, as Corey Brewer stepped up big time to help out James Harden in a convincing 98-76 win over the Toronto Raptors, seemingly still hungover from their big win over the best team in the East.
Brewer scored 26 points in his best performance since arriving via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Harden could relax with a normal and even subdued game for him, scoring 20 points and adding 7 assists on 29 minutes. Brewer also had 10 rebounds and 5 steals, playing 35 minutes, as the Rockets broke away in the second half after both teams combined to score only 76 points in the first half of the game.
The Raptors beat the Hawks with surprising ease on their previous game, but looked absolutely horrible offensively, shooting only 32.5% from the field. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the two players this team relies on the most, combined to shoot just 6-of-27 from the field including 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. Amir Johnson didn’t score a single point. While the defense was holding up that was passable, but in the second half they simply couldn’t keep up.
Josh Smith stepped in nicely for Howard with 3 blocks off the bench, and was a big reason why Jonas Valanciunas wasn’t able to dominate down low, scoring only 11 points and getting up for only five shots in his 27 minutes. Everyone on the Rockets spoke about looking lively, bouncy and energetic in this game in comparison to their previous loss against the Dallas Mavericks. It’ll take a whole lot more of that “secret formula” to try and keep up with the rest of the West while Howard isn’t playing.