Rockets crumble, lose 111-106

3-pointers from Rockets loss to Lakers

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets kicked back into action Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers following an extended All-Star break for everyone not named James Harden. The Rockets shook off a sloppy start to the contest to pull away with as much as a 19 point lead late in the third. Fueled by LeBron James, however, the Lakers would ignite a furious rally, ultimately defeating the Rockets 111-106. Houston is now 33-25, first in the Southwest Division by one half of a game, and fifth in the Western Conference.

Bad Sign

Blowing a 19-point lead at the end of a game is a terrible way to start a playoff push following the All-Star break. Perpetuating a losing streak, however, is even worse. This marks their third loss out of their last four, with their only win coming against a sub .500 Dallas Mavericks team. Their previous loss was dealt by a sub .500 Timberwolves squad, and a week before that we watched yet another meltdown where the Rockets blew a 26-point lead at home against the Thunder. Clint Capela's return to the center position should stabilize things in time, but the Rockets are beginning to look more like a first-round playoff exit candidate than an actual contender.

Good Sign

In spite of the loss, the Rockets' box score became noticeable for the first time in ages. With Clint Capela returning to action and Chris Paul back in rhythm, Harden wasn't leaned on to produce to the degree he has been asked over the past two months. Paul relieved him with a 23 point, 10 rebound, 9 assist performance, while Capela added 12 points and 11 rebounds in his return. In addition, both players contributed over 30 minutes in the contest. Harden was dreadful from three (2-10), but ended up 11-24 overall from the field to finish with 30 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The effort extended Harden's streak of consecutive 30+ point scoring performances to 32 straight, placing him in sole position of second place behind Wilt Chamberlain's legendary 65.

The catch up game

Houston will have little time to recover from the disappointing loss before they take on the defending champs Saturday night. Based off recent history, the odds don't look too great for the Rockets against the Warriors, even if they have yet to lose to them this season. The Warriors are healthy, angry, and this time they'll be throwing DeMarcus Cousins at Houston. Once they get past Saturday, the schedule eases up considerably with contests against Atlanta, Charlotte, and Miami. Sporting a combined opponent winning percentage of 42 percent, it's not out of the realm of possibility to assume that the Rockets should be able to gain some of the ground they've lost over the past two weeks

Rockets player of the game

Chris Paul: 23 points, 9 assists, 10 rebounds

Lakers player of the game

LeBron James: 26 points, 6 assists, 11 rebounds

Up next

The Rockets stay on the road to face the Golden State Warriors Saturday night at 7:30 pm.

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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