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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets roll over the Raptors, 135-106

POSTED: February 2, 2024 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets routed the Toronto Raptors 135-106 Friday night. The Rockets have now scored 130+ points in four of the past six games after doing so twice prior this season. Houston improves to 18-6 when holding opponents below 110 points this season.

Houston attacked the paint relentlessly and outscored Toronto 84-54 in the painted area.

The 84 points-in-the-paint ties for the most in the NBA this season and is the most points-in-the-paint Houston has recorded in a game since the stat was tracked back in 1996-97 (previously 82 at Indiana on 3/9/23).

"We really wanted to attack," Ime Udoka, Rockets Head Coach said after the game. "Jakob (Jakob Poeltl, Toronto's shot-blocking starting center) had the fouls; so, a combination of both. But, playing with that pace has been good for us."

Toronto (17-31) led 7-4 before Jabari Smith Jr hit a 3 to tie the game at 7. Smith hit another 3 for a 10-7 Rockets' lead with 7:31 to go in the first quarter. Houston led the rest of the ball game.

Houston (23-25) outscored Toronto 27-16 to lead 37-23 after 12 minutes. Alperen Sengün and Fred VanVleet each scored 7 points in the first quarter.

Houston's rookie duo of Amen Thompson (8 points) and Cam Whitmore (6 points) combined for 14 of the team's 29 points in the second quarter. Thompson was a perfect 4 for 4 in the quarter while Whitmore was 2 for 3.

The Rockets led the Raptors 66-47 at halftime.

The Raptors managed to get within 15 (84-69) of the Rockets with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter; however, Sengün (5), Thompson (5), and Whitmore (6) combined for 16 points during a 16-0 run the next 3:37 for a 100-69 lead with 1:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"Energy. They (Thompson and Whitmore) came in and gave us a huge boost obviously," Coach Udoka said of his two rookies. "Both of them scoring the ball tonight but also guarding multiple guys and pushing the pace."

Sengün scored 13 of Houston's 36 third-quarter points.

Houston led 102-72 after 3 periods. Houston's lead in the 4th quarter did not get below 22 points as Houston cruised to the victory.

Cam Whitmore scored a career-high 25 points (10 for 17 field goals -- 3 for 7 threes).

"Yeah, we got two athletic rookies," Whitmore said of him and Amen Thompson. "Amen, as a passer - a great passer - sees the floor up and down. When you got two and two together, something special can happen."

Sengün finished the game with 24 points (10 for 14 field goals), 13 rebounds, and 8 assists in less than 29 minutes.

"We didn't play that hot last game," Sengün said regarding Wednesday's 110-99 loss to New Orleans. "Today, we were running. We were cutting. We were getting offensive rebounds. We played really hard today; and, we didn't want to lose at home after that last game."

Amen Thompson had a career-high 19 points along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals while shooting 9-of-11 from the floor in 24 minutes of play.

"Just playing aggressive," Thompson in the locker room after the game. "Attacking them before they could attack me and just keeping them on their heels all game."


Dating back to 1979-80, Alperen Sengün is the ninth time a player has recorded at least 24 points, 13 boards and 8 assists while playing fewer than 30 minutes. James Harden (30/13/9 in 29 minutes) did it for the Rockets vs. Phoenix on 4/7/19.

Cam Whitmore is the second-youngest player (19 years, 209 days) to have scored at least 25 points while playing 25 or fewer minutes (Kobe Bryant with 25 in 24 minutes vs. Golden State on 11/9/97 at 19 years, 78 days). Over the past five games, Whitmore has scored 105 points in 109 minutes of play.

Over the past 11 games, Amen Thompson is averaging 9.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.7 apg and 1.55 spg in 19.1 mpg while shooting 58.0% from the floor.

Houston outrebounded Toronto 49-37. The Rockets have outrebounded their opponent by double-digits in four of the past six games. Houston is 15-8 when outrebounding its opponent by any margin this season, including 8-2 when doing so by 10 or more.


The Rockets' next game is Sunday, February 4, on the road, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip is set for 6 p.m. Central Time.

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