Houston faces elimination after 104-99 loss

3-pointers from Rockets game 5 loss versus Warriors

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The Houston Rockets tipped off late Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors in a pivotal game 5 of the western conference semifinals. Houston suffered from multiple double-digit deficits in the first half, but battled back in the third quarter to even the score. Both teams would trade leads in the fourth, but it was Golden State who would come out on top. Golden State now leads the series 3 games to 2 in the best of 7 series.

Capela neutralized

Throughout the regular season, Houston's starting center terrorized opponents with his athletic versatility and ability to feed on alley-oop opportunities. It was expected that Clint Capela would be a major piece in this series, but so far the Warriors have refused to allow Capela to become a factor. He's looked lost, failed to catch easy lobs, and refuses to challenge anyone down low. Tonight he played himself off the court once again, logging only 26 minutes in a must-win game. Capela must find a way to reassert himself somehow in this series if Houston wants to dictate the game play.

Durant goes down

Kevin Durant was firing on all cylinders once again Wednesday night when late in the third quarter he came up limping on a non-contact injury. He immediately retreated to the locker room and did not return to the game. The issue is being characterized as a right calf strain at the moment. It seemed like a golden opportunity for Houston to steal a win in Oakland, but late runs from the Warriors' other stars sealed the victory. If Durant misses any time moving forward, Houston's chances of clawing back into this series is vastly improved.

Splash brothers regroup

After a collective game 4 shooting clunker between Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, game 5 was a solid reversal of fortune. Klay Thompson provided a long overdue Klay Thompson moment, as he was unable to miss for most of the first quarter, going 5-7 for 12 points. Curry, still slumping from beyond the arc, attacked the rim at an efficient 6-12 clip. When Durant went down, it was the collective effort of both Thompson and Curry who picked up the slack and prevented Houston from running away with the game. Thompson finished with 27 points, while Curry finished with 25.

Rockets player of the game

James Harden: 31 points (10-16 from the field), 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block

Warriors player of the game

Klay Thompson: 27 points (5-10 from 3-point range), 1 assist, 4 rebounds, 3 steals

Up next

The Rockets will take on the Warriors on Friday for game 6 of the western conference semifinals at 8:00 pm, central.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

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Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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