TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Don’t look now but here comes the Raptors as they moved to the .500 mark at 17-17 and hold the down the 4th spot in the NBA East Standings. Tonight they host the Chicago Bulls (15-17) in hopes of keeping the winning ways going on their southern home at Amalie Arena.
Behind the duo of Norman Powell who scored 30 points and Kyle Lowry’s triple-double and the depleted Toronto Raptors beat the Houston Rockets 122-111 on Friday night.
The Raptors were without head coach Nick Norse, five assistant coaches and starting forward Pascal Siakam in accordance with the NBA’s health and safety protocols regarding the coronavirus. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo directed the team. He had been away from the Raptors while coaching Spain in FIBA’s EuroBasket 2022 qualifiers and just cleared quarantine Friday.
Scariolo has extensive experience as a head coach, winning championships of leagues in Italy, Spain and Russia, plus has been Spain’s national coach — helping that team win medals at the 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics, plus capture the Basketball World Cup title in 2019.
Siakam was listed as out about two hours before the game, indicating that he either has a testing issue or a contact tracing issue. He played Wednesday night in Miami in the Raptors’ loss to the Heat.
Lowry had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to help the Raptors hand the Rockets their 10th straight loss. Fred VanVleet added 25 points, making 5 of 11 3-pointers. Lowry was 4 of 5 from long range, and Powell 4 of 8.
Victor Oladipo led the Rockets with 27 points, and John Wall had 21 points and 12 assists.
Lowry and Powell led Toronto on a 44-21 run over a 13-minute span that put the Raptors in command at 65-50 late in the first half.
Rockets: The last time the Rockets lost 10 straight games was Nov. 23-Dec. 20, 2001 during a 15-game losing streak.
Raptors: The Raptors have not been involved in any of the NBA’s 29 coronavirus postponements so far this season. . . . Lowry has 18 career triple-doubles. He played his second game after missing four straight because of a sprained left thumb.
Rockets: Host Memphis on Sunday.
Raptors: Host Chicago on Sunday night.