Raptors tipoff: Bring on the Rockets

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:42 PM ET

MARQUEE MATCHUP

With neither team possessing a bona fide marquee player, we’ll go with the battle at shooting guard. Houston offers up Kevin Martin, who has scored 20 or more in the past seven games while DeRozan is averaging 15.4 points over his past eight games. Martin scored 31 against the Raptors in a 106-96 loss in Toronto earlier this year. With Andrea Bargnani out and both point guards, Jerryd Bayless and Jose Calderon doubtful, DeRozan is going to be asked to become even more prominent in the scoring.

SCOUTING REPORT

The Rockets just had their season-best five-game winning streak snapped by the Miami Heat. The Rockets had just got back to the .500 mark prior to the visit by the Heat. Centre Yao Ming has been out since Nov. 12. On Dec. 16, the team revealed Yao had a stress fracture in his left ankle and will not play again the rest of the year. Guard Aaron Brooks, like Yao, missed the first meeting between these two teams but he’s healthy again and will play Friday. Brooks missed 21 games with a severe left ankle sprain returning on Dec. 17. The current starting five the Rockets send out — Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, Martin, and Kyle Lowry — owns a 12-6 record.

DID YOU KNOW

Since the Raptors defeated Houston in Toronto in mid November, the Rockets have gone 12-7 ... None of the Raptors three statistical leaders from the first matchup — Bargnani led in scoring with 26, Reggie Evans led the way rebounding with nine, and Jarrett Jack had eight assists to lead all Raptors — will be in uniform tonight for Toronto ... The Rockets are promoting a New Years Eve deal which offers patrons four tickets to the game, four hot dogs, four sodas and two kids’ basketball shorts for the price of $69 on Friday ... The 18,409 on hand to witness Wednesday’s loss to the Miami Heat was the sixth largest crowd in team history.


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