TORONTO — Guard DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points and the Toronto Raptors held on to defeat the Houston Rockets 107-103 on Wednesday.
Guard Greivis Vasquez and center Jonas Valanciunas added 15 points each for the Raptors (43-32). Guard Terrence Ross scored 14 and guard/forward John Salmons chipped in with 12 points off the bench for the Raptors, who led by as many as 20 points.
Guard James Harden led the Rockets (49-25) with 26 points while forward Chandler Parsons added 20 points.
Guard Jeremy Lin had 16 points while forward/center Donatas Motiejunas scored 13. Center Omer Asik added nine points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who lost seven in a row at Air Canada Centre.
Both teams were without key players because of injury. The Rockets were again without forward Dwight Howard and the Raptors were without point guard Kyle Lowry.
Raptors forward Amir Johnson played only 2:58, grabbing two rebounds, before leaving the game with a sore right ankle in the opening quarter. He did not return.
The Raptors took a 10-point lead into the final quarter and had it shrink to two on Asik’s layup and free throw with 8:45 to play. The lead was one after Harden made one of two free throws. But when forward Patrick Patterson made a floating jumper, the Raptors led 98-92 with 5:20 left. The Raptors led by eight points with 2:02 left on a layup by Valanciunas. A travelling call cost Houston one possession, but Harden made three free throws with 17.7 seconds remaining to cut the lead to five points. Ross hit one of two foul shots for a six-point lead. Lin cut that in half with a 3-point shot. Vasquez made one of two free throws to put the lead at four with 4.6 seconds left.
Ross scored six points early in the third quarter and when Valanciunas made a layup and a free throw the Raptors led by 12 points.
DeRozan’s reverse layup increased the lead to 14 with 5:35 left in the third. Salmons made two free throws to put the Raptors up by 20 points.
But forward Omri Casspi, guard Isaiah Canaan and Lin each made 3-pointers late in the quarter to cut the Toronto lead to 90-80 entering the fourth quarter.
DeRozan scored the Raptors’ final nine points of the second quarter, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer from 32 feet to give Toronto a 55-50 lead at the intermission.
DeRozan finished the half with 17 points, the same total Harden had for Houston.
The Rockets had a strong start, leading by as many as 12 points during the first quarter. But the Raptors finished the quarter on a 9-0 run to whittle the lead to 25-23.
NOTES: Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson reached an agreement on a five-year contract to coach the University of Houston men’s basketball team, according to reports. He was expected to begin his new job immediately after Wednesday’s game. “He’s had success wherever he’s been,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said before the game. “We’ll all miss him. He’s been a great addition.” … Raptors G Kyle Lowry (sore left knee), who was injured in Monday’s loss to the Miami Heat, did not play. Raptors coach Dwane Casey said tests showed no structural damage to Lowry’s knee. … Rockets F Dwight Howard (left ankle strain), G Pat Beverley (right knee sprain) and F/C Greg Smith (right knee) were out. … The Raptors are home on Friday to face the Indiana Pacers. … The Rockets return home to play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
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