The streak is officially over. After losing 20 consecutive games starting on Feb. 4, the Houston Rockets are finally winners again after defeating the Toronto Raptors, 117-99. All five Houston starters scored in double-figures, and Jae'Sean Tate led the way with 22 points for the Rockets.
Houston started off its post-James Harden era hot, but once Christian Wood sprained his ankle, their offense lost any chance at consistency. Wood got hurt in a Feb. 4 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, but proceeded to miss the next 17 games. Those were the first 17 games of the losing streak. On Sunday, with Wood back in the fold, the Rockets came one possession short of beating the Thunder at the buzzer and ending the streak then. They finished the job against Toronto on Monday and with Wood back in the lineup, Houston might be able to at least play moderately competitive basketball down the stretch.
Now, it is the Raptors who have taken the baton as the NBA team with the longest losing streak. After making it back to .500 before the All-Star break, they have lost nine in a row to fall to 17-26. A coronavirus outbreak is partially responsible for those struggles, but with more than half of the season now in the books, Toronto has to reckon with the fact that it is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and 2.5 games out of even a play-in appearance.
In a historic sense, 20-game losing streaks aren't quite as rare as they'd seem. Before the Rockets, 13 other teams had lost 20 games in a row. The NBA record is 28 losses in a row by the Philadelphia 76ers across two seasons. The single-season record? The 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers have both reached 26. Fortunately for Houston, those are milestones they no longer need to worry about.