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 loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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