Ben McLemore had a season-high 28 points, P.J. Tucker added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Danuel House Jr. scored 16 as Houston handed Toronto its second consecutive home loss after a franchise-record nine straight wins to begin the season, the Associated Press reported.
With Harden drawing an extra defender every time he had the ball, his play-making skills were more important than points for once.
“James, to his credit, didn’t force anything,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said.
“He said, ‘OK, double me and my teammates will score tonight,’ and they did it.”
Toronto guard Fred VanVleet said the Raptors have “definitely stretched the spectrum” with creative defensive schemes this season.
“This was one of those things that didn’t go our way,” VanVleet said.
“If we would have scored 11 more points, we’d be geniuses and the defense was the best thing in the world and we’d be Harden-stoppers.”
Harden shot seven for 11, his fewest attempts of the season, and failed to finish as Houston’s leading scorer for the second time. The only other time was an opening-night loss to Milwaukee in which Harden shot two for 13 and scored a season-low 19 points.
“We’ve seen so many different defenses throughout the course of the year,” Harden said.
“Tonight was our first time seeing this defense. Guys did an unbelievable job of moving their bodies and being ready to shoot.”
McLemore set a career high by making eight three-pointers on 17 attempts. Tucker matched his season high with five made 3s. Houston finished 22 for 55 from long range.
“When you’re giving guys, NBA pros, open looks like that, it’s tough,” House said.
“Especially the amount of time that we had, guys are going to shoot. They were just knocking them down all night.”
Pascal Siakam scored 24 points, VanVleet had 20 and Kyle Lowry 19 as the Raptors lost back-to-back regular-season home games for the first time since losing to Oklahoma City and Charlotte last March 22 and 24.
Lowry shot two for 18 in Tuesday’s overtime loss to Miami, his first game after missing 11 because of a broken left thumb.
The five-time All-Star fared better against the Rockets, making five of eight attempts, including three of five from long range. He shot six for six at the free throw line and led his team with eight assists.