ROCKETS RELAUNCH

Here are some important takeaways after watching the Rockets new-look offense

Rockets John Wall, James Harden, Stephen Silas
So far, so good for the Rockets offense. Composite photo by Jack Brame

This past weekend quickly became exhilarating because of the appearances of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins playing in a game together for the first time with the Rockets. It was also exciting for head coach Stephen Silas, as he made his first appearance as the Rockets' new coach. These three key components have a lot of questions to answer as the season is about to get started.

Will Wall be explosive off the dribble and going towards the rim after suffering an Achilles injury? Did Cousins make a great recovery from an ACL injury? How much movement did Silas add to the Rockets' new offense?

All these questions were answered as the Rockets finished the weekend 1-1 against the Bulls.

1) John Wall

Wall looked extremely explosive towards the rim by being able to jump off his left foot. He had no problems attacking the basket over defenders if not getting by them too. Wall shot 48 percent from the field, including 33 percent from the perimeter. He was efficient at the rim by making 77 percent of his layups. Wall's usage in 21.6 minutes was 34 percent as he was able to average 6.5 assist per game. He felt extremely comfortable in Silas' offense by maximizing his potential.

Wall and Cousins were great in pick-n-roll and pick-n-pop, which the Bulls struggled defending. Cousins was able to use his size to slow down the defender, which helped free Wall for layups or kick-outs. This weekend, Wall averaged 17 points per game, but the minute restriction came into play. Honestly, the Bulls had a tough time defending Wall because he attacked the gaps extremely well.

2) DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins was able to showcase his shooting from the pick-n-pop offense. He was able to average 12 points per game and shoot 62.5 percent from the perimeter, which is impressive after having a year off. Cousins looked preserved in Silas' five-out offense because of his positioning on the court. He mostly popped or became wide-open in the corner from the perimeter. When Christian Woods comes back, Cousins will rotate on the pick-n-pop, instead of living off the perimeter. Boogie did look impressive when rolling towards the basket in the pick-n-pop formation.

Also, Cousins is in great shape and should be more mobile as the season goes on for the Rockets. He'll be a great voice and another leader for Houston.

3) Stephen Silas and ball movement

Silas' ball movement on the five-out offensive was exciting because the ball touched every player's hands. Inside the Rockets' offense, Bruno Caboclo had a nice showing Friday night by shooting 62.5 percent from the perimeter. Caboclo didn't see any minutes from Houston's former coach, Mike D'Antoni. Friday night, Caboclo had 17 points versus the Bulls and got open shots because of the ball movement of the Rockets. Hopefully, Caboclo has more opportunities this season so he can progress.

Silas even found better shots for Eric Gordon, as he finished with 16 on Friday night. Gordon shot 50 percent from the perimeter and was able to find different lanes to attack on offense.

As the ball moves through the offense, more players on the Rockets got opportunities. Now that James Harden has joined the Rockets' practice on Monday, it will be interesting to see how he operates inside the offense. Silas' new offense involves less isolation, which helped Harden thrive underneath D'Antoni for four years. Harden has averaged over 30 points per game for the last three seasons. Hopefully, Harden changes his mind about playing with Wall because an enticing opportunity presents itself.

Silas has his hands full with this loaded offense since Harden, Cousins, and Wall are on the same team. Hopefully, Silas can make it work if Harden stays with the Rockets.

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Braves beat Houston in extra innings, 5-4. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Marcell Ozuna hit his major league-leading eighth homer and Orlando Arcia’s RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

It completes a three-game sweep of the struggling Astros and is Atlanta’s fourth straight victory.

The Braves scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie it at 4-4. Michael Harris II started the 10th as the automatic runner on second and there was one out in the inning when Seth Martinez (1-1) intentionally walked Matt Olson.

Ozuna lined out to right field to send Harris to third base. Arcia then singled on a ground ball to left field to score Harris and put the Braves on top.

Pinch-runner Jake Meyers was on second when Kyle Tucker walked with no outs in the 10th. Meyers moved to third on a fly out by Yainer Diaz but Jeremy Peña grounded into a double play to end it.

A.J. Minter (3-1) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. added his first homer of the season to help the Braves to the victory. Ozuna also leads the majors with 23 RBIs and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games, which ties his career best and is the longest active streak in the majors.

Yordan Alvarez and Mauricio Dubón both homered for the Astros, who fell to 6-14 and are last in the AL West.

There was one out in the first when Alvarez connected on his homer to the seats in left field to put Houston up 1-0.

Ozuna opened the second with his 432-foot shot to left field, which bounced off the wall and tied the game.

Acuña put the Braves up 2-1 when he sent the first pitch of the fifth inning to straightaway center field.

The Astros tied it on an RBI single by Alex Bregman in the fifth and Kyle Tucker’s RBI double came next to put the Astros up 3-2.

Dubón hit his first home run of the year off Jesse Chavez to start Houston’s sixth and push the lead to 4-2.

Harris singled to start the seventh before a ground-rule double by Austin Riley. Olson reached, and Harris scored on a fielding error by first baseman José Abreu when he couldn’t grab a routine ground ball.

There was one out in the inning when Riley scored on a sacrifice fly by Arcia to tie it at 4-all.

Houston starter J.P. France allowed four hits and two runs in five innings.

Max Fried gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings.

UP NEXT

Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a series against Texas on Friday night with LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night against Washington. The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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