Fred VanVleet Raptors NBA

Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors controls the ball against the Houston Rockets during the second half at Toyota Center on February 03, 2023 in Houston, Texas. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. caught fire in the middle two periods as the visiting Toronto Raptors rallied from an early double-digit deficit to top the Houston Rockets 117-111 on Friday.

VanVleet scored 16 of his game-high 32 points in the third quarter after taking a cue from Trent, who scored 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting in the second. Trent finished with 29 points and combined with VanVleet to hit 10 of 20 3-point attempts. Toronto sank 15 of 39 attempts (38.5 percent) from behind the arc.

Pascal Siakam added 23 points and six rebounds for the Raptors, who had dropped six of their previous nine games. Chris Boucher chipped in 11 points, eight boards and three blocks off the bench.

The Rockets, who again were without starting guards Jalen Green (calf) and Kevin Porter Jr. (foot), were led by Eric Gordon’s 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Alperen Sengun tallied 21 points, Kenyon Martin Jr. had 20 and Josh Christopher added a season-high 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting off the Houston bench.

The Rockets struggled periodically against the Raptors’ length, as Toronto finished with seven blocks.

Toronto improved to 3-3 on its seven-game road trip. Houston had a two-game winning streak end.

VanVleet scored nine points during a 14-2 run that opened the second half and extended the Raptors’ lead to 69-50. He shot 5 of 8 in the third quarter and hit three 3-pointers to help Toronto take control. Siakam, after scoring eight points in the second quarter, added nine in the third.

Toronto was nearly undone by a ragged offensive start. The Raptors missed their first six shots and slipped into a 19-6 hole when Rockets guard Daishen Nix drilled a 26-footer at the 5:52 mark of the first.

The Raptors shot 7-for-24 (29.2 percent) in the first but trailed by just one after the period. At the start of the second, Trent and Siakam scored in succession to give Toronto its first lead. Trent followed with a 3-pointer with 4:18 to go in the period, pushing the Raptors back ahead at 42-41, and his back-to-back treys inside the final 34 seconds helped Toronto secure a 55-48 halftime lead.

The Rockets shot 51.2 percent prior to the intermission but couldn’t keep track of VanVleet in the third. And once the Raptors secured a double-digit advantage, Houston struggled to keep pace.


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