Rockets 110, Raptors 104

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HOUSTON -- HOUSTON guard Jeremy Lin scored a season-high 31 points, including a crucial driving layup with 33.4 seconds left in the second overtime to carry the struggling Rockets to a 110-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday night at Toyota Center.

The Rockets (5-3) snapped a modest two-game skid with the win, as guard James Harden added 26 points and 10 assists while forward Dwight Howard totaled 18 points, 24 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Toronto, despite its shooting woes, did not relent. After Lin converted a driving layup for an 80-66 lead with 8:32 left in the fourth, the Raptors responded with a 14-2 run. With 2:20 left, guard Terrence Ross’ tip-in pulled the Raptors even at 84 and, with 40 seconds remaining, power forward Amir Johnson gave the Raptors its first lead since the first quarter with another tip-in.

Small forward Rudy Gay and Harden badly missed jumpers during the final moments of regulation, but Gay drilled a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left to force the second overtime. Gay had been 9-for-30 before his game-tying jumper.

Gay scored 29 points while guard DeMar DeRozan added 22. However, that tandem combined to shoot a woeful 17-for-62 for the Raptors (3-5).

The Rockets countered an opening burst of interior dominance from Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas with a surprising show of defensive might. After Valanciunas posted six points and five rebounds by the midpoint of the first quarter, Howard replied to spark the defense.

Toronto guard Kyle Lowry drilled a 3 with 2:00 left to pull the Raptors even at 20-all, their last basket until DeRozan scored through a foul with 9:03 left in the half. In the interim, the Rockets reeled off 11 consecutive points, the last coming when forward Terrence Jones dunked in transition.

But after the Raptors closed to 36-32, Howard got going, producing a pair of dunks, a layup and a short bank shot to bump the lead to 47-33 at the break. Howard paired 17 points with 11 rebounds and added three blocks as HOUSTON held Toronto to 25.6 percent shooting.

The Raptors silenced Howard in the third quarter but HOUSTON had Lin to thank for helping maintain its lead. He scored 10 points in the period by making both of his shots from the floor and five of his six free throws.

Lin struggled with turnovers while carrying the load, but his shooting and aggressiveness paid dividends, including a stretch in which he scored 10 of 12 points for HOUSTON after Toronto pulled to within 58-48.

NOTES: The Rockets are under siege from the flu bug, but G/F Francisco Garcia was the lone regular sidelined against Toronto. ... Raptors F Steve Novak was inactive due to a sore back. ... With Raptors G D.J. Augustin struggling to provide productivity in his reserve role, Toronto coach Dwane Casey acknowledged that starting G Kyle Lowry could see an uptick in minutes until the rotation behind him is sorted. "Dwight Buycks is going to get an opportunity, Julyan (Stone) is getting an opportunity, all three guys until we see which one is going to emerge," Casey said. ... Rockets coach Kevin McHale expressed disappointment in his team's rebounding despite the fact HOUSTON began the night ranked third in the league on the glass and C Omer Asik and PF Dwight Howard were averaging 14 rebounds apiece. "I'm surprised we're not rebounding well. I thought that would be one of our strengths," McHale said.


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