Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/27/12
HOUSTON -- In the first game after the death of their coach's daughter, the Houston Rockets scorched the nets in a 117-101 win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night at the Toyota Center. Sasha McHale, the 23-year-old daughter of coach Kevin McHale, died Saturday after a long battle with lupus. Interim coach Kelvin Sampson again led the Rockets in place of McHale, who took a leave of absence beginning Nov. 10 to be with his family. The Rockets (7-7) doubled their 10-point halftime lead during a runaway third quarter, shooting 11-for-19 in that period, including 7-for-11 on 3-pointers. Houston wound up shooting 53 percent for the game, 50 percent from long range (13-for-26). Rockets guard James Harden scored 13 of his team-high 24 points in the third quarter, and Patrick Patterson tallied 15 of his 22. "Since we won these last three games, especially this game being such an emotional game, I think we're moving forward in the right direction," Patterson said. Added Harden: "The past three games have been good for us to get back in a groove, to know that we're a good team and that we can win games." Forward Andrea Bargnani (21 points, 19 in the first half) and rookie guard Terrence Ross (career-high 19 points) paced Toronto (3-12). The Raptors shot soundly (48.8 percent), but their nine first-half turnovers enabled the Rockets to pull in front. "I think a lot of it is just natural evolution," Rockets interim coach Kelvin Sampson said. "We're finding each other better, we're making the extra pass better, and there's a lot to be said about shooting the ball in rhythm. We don't shoot many balls off the bounce. It's catch and shoot." All five Rockets starters scored in double figures, with guard Jeremy Lin (16 points and 10 assists) and center Omer Asik (13 points, 18 rebounds) adding double-doubles to that of Harden, who had 12 assists. Chandler Parsons added 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. "I think we were a little bit off and they were running," Raptors reserve guard Jose Calderon said. "They were running hard and picked up their transition and scored so many points in the first half."It was unlikely that Bargnani would continue the shooting skid that saw him miss 17 of 19 shots against the Spurs on Sunday. On Tuesday, Bargnani scored 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting in the opening period. Second-year Houston forward Marcus Morris spelled foul-plagued Patrick Patterson at the 9:02 mark of the first quarter and scored 11 points on five shots, matching Bargnani (2-for-2) on 3-pointers. The Rockets' starting backcourt of Lin and Harden combined for 12 points and six assists in the first half. The Rockets committed just two turnovers before halftime, the first coming on an Asik offensive foul with 5:16 left in the second quarter. They parlayed their plus-7 turnover margin into 11 additional field-goals attempts, which help offset their porous defense. The Raptors made 60 percent of their first-half field goals, paced by Bargnani (7-for-9 shooting). Ross and DeMar DeRozan combined to score 16 points on 8-for-13 shooting before the break. Asik nearly posted a double-double before the intermission (10 points, nine rebounds) as the Rockets carried a 61-51 lead into the locker room. "It started in the first quarter, continued in the second quarter," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of the defensive woes. "That style of game lends itself to not playing defense. I told our guys at halftime the first team that plays defense wins. And we didn't." NOTES: The Rockets were scheduled to leave for Minneapolis right after Tuesday night's game to attend funeral services of Sasha McHale on Wednesday morning. The team then will fly to Oklahoma City for a game with the Thunder on Wednesday night. ... In memory of Sasha, the Rockets wore a green band on their jerseys as well as green and purple patches bearing her initials on their shooting shirts. Green represented her favorite color, and purple signified the color recognized in the national fight against lupus. ... Raptors rookie guard Ross and Rockets rookie forward Terrence Jones attended Jefferson High School in Portland, Ore., together.
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