Houston came out of the gate firing on all cylinders against their elite Eastern Conference opponent, jumping out to a quick 33-20 first quarter lead.
But Houston's inability to play consistently for multiple games, or in Friday's case, multiple quarters, was on display once again.
While Toronto struggled to cut Houston's lead to single digits, the Raptors managed to score 41 points on 71 percent shooting in the second quarter, slowly chipping away at the Rockets lead.
In the second half, Houston continued to maintain control, cruising for 23 minutes of gameplay before disaster struck.
Armed with an 11-point lead and 74 seconds remaining, former San Antonio Spur Kawhi Leonard hit a long 3-pointer to give Toronto life.
Leonard continued his destruction with a steal on Harden, eventually leading to a Danny Green 3-pointer.
Rockets guard Eric Gordon turned the ball over by stepping out of bounds on the following possession, leading to a third-straight Raptors triple with 27 seconds left.
But Harden continued his quest for a second-straight MVP award, playing lockdown defense on Leonard during the final possession, as the Raptors forward air-balled the potential game-winner, leading to the 2-point victory.
Houston was led by Harden's 35 points and seven assists. He also extended his unassisted scoring streak to 298 straight points.
Meanwhile, Gordon added in 24 points and three steals for the Rockets. Kenneth Faried logged a double-double in just his second start with Houston, finishing with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
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