TV: League Pass
- After experiencing an emotional couple of days following the death of Sasha McHale, the 23-year-old daughter of Houston coach Kevin McHale, the Rockets’ concentration will be put to the test when they conclude a three-game homestand Tuesday against the struggling Raptors. The NBA has given the Rockets permission to wear a green band on the shoulder of their uniforms through Dec. 26 to memorialize Sasha, whose battle with Lupus has kept McHale away from the team since Nov. 10. Green was her favorite color. Acting coach Kelvin Sampson said the players, already a tightly knit unit, have responded to the devastating news with the correct approach and are building a stronger bond amongst each other. “The guys have come together and really handled the situation as well as you can expect. They’re laying it out there for their coach,” Sampson said. “This is a good team [we’re facing] … it’s an important game to us.”
- Tuesday’s contest will be Toronto guard Kyle Lowry’s first game in Houston since the Rockets shipped him to the Raptors in July for a first-round draft pick. Lowry has expressed no hard feelings toward the organization for the trade, even going as far as saying he considers Houston as his “home away from home.” “This is where I started coming into my own, where I was given an opportunity to really show what I can offer,” Lowry said. “The people were good to me. I had a lot of fun here. … It’s just a special place where I made a lot of progress as a player.”
- The Raptors are 1-8 this season in games decided by eight points or less, including three consecutive defeats by a combined seven points. Coach Dwane Casey said these close results have been difficult for his players to swallow, but they have value in teaching his team the importance of paying attention to detail during the pivotal moments of each game. “We go through attention to details in practice: where guys should be, timing, angles … all the things that you try to teach a young player that will arise in a certain situation,” Casey said. “You never should get used to losing … but I do see growth, even though it’s not coming with the Ls.”
- For Toronto (3-11), Landry Fields (right elbow) and Alan Anderson (left foot) remain sidelined. The Rockets (6-7), meanwhile, will play without reserves Carlos Delfino (groin) and Cole Aldrich (right ankle). Delfino said at Tuesday’s shootaround that he is targeting Saturday’s game against Utah for his return.
– Matt Miller