Depleted Raptors hand Rockets 10th straight loss
By DICK SCANLON
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Coronavirus protocols forced the Toronto Raptors to play Friday night without most of their coaching staff and forward Pascal Siakam.
But they had two coaches ready to take over on an interim basis, and one of them was on the floor.
Kyle Lowry had a triple-double - 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists - in a 122-111 victory over the Houston Rockets. The veteran guard added his share of input to assistant coach Sergio Scariolo, who took over as coach in the absence of head coach Nick Nurse.
"We undestood the situation, and we didn't want to make it overcomplicated. Me and and Freddy (VanVleet) are always coaches on the floor anyway," said Lowry, who played 33 minutes and made four of five 3-point shots.
"I like the kind of players who are challenging you in a positive way," Scariolo said. "It's different from the view a coach can have from the sideline."
Norman Powell scored 30 points and Nick Van Vleet added 25 for the Raptors.
Victor Oladipo led the Rockets with 27 points, and John Wall had 21 points and 12 assists. Houston has lost 10 straight.
The Raptors were without Nurse and five members of his staff in accordance with the NBA's health and safety protocols regarding the coronavirus. They learned shortly before the game that Siakam would be unavailable for the same reason.
"All day it was was kind of reacting, all the time, to something different," said Scariolo, who had been away from the Raptors until Monday while coaching Spain in FIBA's EuroBasket 2022 qualifiers, and just cleared quarantine Friday. "But at the end of the day we got a W, so who cares?"
"I don't really want to put too much into it," said VanVleet. "Obviously, that's why you have a strong coaching staff, for situations like this."
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.
"It's something I never wanted to happen, but it happened" he said of Friday's developments. "I just tried to do my best to get the team a win."
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 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.
Updated February 26, 2021