ROCKETS RELAUNCH

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

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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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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