Rockets fall to 0-2 in the series

3-pointers from Rockets 109-115 loss versus Warriors

Tuesday night the Houston Rockets took on the Golden State Warriors looking to even the western conference semifinals series at one game a piece. Houston came out sloppy from the start, and Golden State raced out to a lead that the Rockets would ultimately never be able to catch. While the game remained within reach throughout, Houston was unable to close in and the Rockets fell 115-109. The Warriors now lead the Rockets 2 games to none in the best of seven series.

Early Injuries

Almost immediately after the start of game 2, both teams received injury scares to key players one after the other. After swiping at a Clint Capela, point guard Stephen Curry clutched his left hand and made an exit for the locker room. They injury was reported as a dislocated middle finger, and Curry later returned in the first quarter with the injured digit secured to his other finger. Not too long after Curry made his exit, so too did James Harden. As the two teams battled for a rebound, power forward Draymond Green unintentionally swiped Harden's face causing an injury to both eyes. Harden wouldn't return until halfway through the second quarter, and after re-acclimating themselves both went to work lighting up the scoreboard. Harden would finish with 29 points, while Curry added 20 of his own.

Ball Security

Houston started the game either stiff or full of nerves. Whatever the case, the Rockets dug themselves into a hole with turnovers early that they would ultimately fail to overcome. Houston lost the first quarter turnover battle, 9-2, allowing 14 points. By the end of the contest they had given up 24 points off of 17 turnovers, while Golden State gave up only 9.

Quiet night

After 48 hours of nonstop talk surrounding the controversial officiating of game one, the focus only intensified Tuesday morning following the announcement that referee Scott Foster would be running the crew for game two. Foster, known for a perceived lack of impartial officiating towards Harden seemed like the worst timing the NBA could have run into, even if his assignment to this specific game had been made long ago. While Houston fans spent most of the day bemoaning what was assumed to be a repeat of game one, the contest was almost the exact opposite. Golden State was, in fact, the team that found itself in the most foul trouble in what was generally considered an evenly called game.

Rockets Player of the game

James Harden: 29 points, 4 assists, 7 rebounds, 1 steal

Warriors Player of the game

Kevin Durant: 29 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks.

Next up

The Rockets return to Houston for game three of the western conference semifinals against the Warriors at 7:30 pm.

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How about the Texans land Sean Payton and keep their 1st round picks this year? Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images.

Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton caught the attention of a lot of Houston Texans fans on Monday with comments he made on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

Payton said he is absolutely considering the Texans’ gig citing the team’s draft capital, the AFC South and casual relationships with owner Cal McNair and general manager Nick Caserio as reasons for it, which cast a different light on the Houston job.

Whether Payton and the Texans ultimately wind up together, only time will tell, but if both sides were to agree that they are the right fit for each other, what would it take to land Payton in Houston?

Payton’s situation is a bit unique in that the Saints still hold his contractual rights because he signed a five-year extension with the team in 2019 before he retired in 2022. In order for the Texans, or any other team, to land Payton, they will likely have to give up a significant draft choice. Payton alluded to it during his conversation on The Herd.

New Orleans is likely looking for a mid-to-late first-round pick. A hefty price to pay in the NFL, but is there a way for the Texans to get a trade to work if they were to become convinced he is the right man for the job?

Like Payton said, Houston has put itself in a position where it owns a lot of draft picks, and a good portion of them come from the Cleveland Browns courtesy of the Deshaun Watson deal.

For 2023, the Texans have two first-round picks — the No. 2 overall pick and No. 12 from Cleveland. In 2024, Houston has two first-round picks as well, its own and that of the Cleveland Browns.

Looking at other teams across the league that are also reportedly interested in Payton, the Texans clearly have the edge over them. The Denver Broncos have only one first-round draft pick in this year’s draft, and it comes from the San Francisco 49ers, meaning it will be a late draft pick.

The Arizona Cardinals have the third overall pick in 2023. It's their only first-round draft pick this season. It would not make sense for them to part ways with that pick. The Carolina Panthers have the ninth overall pick in the 2023 draft. Similar to Arizona, it's their only pick in the first round and it would not make sense for them to part ways with it for Payton.

The Los Angeles Chargers are an intriguing team following the collapse in the Wild Card round last weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

LA has the 21st overall pick in the 2023 draft. With Justin Herbert and various weapons across both sides of the ball, the Chargers are one team that could afford to trade its first-round pick in exchange for a head coach that could take them over the top. At the moment, it does seem like Brandon Staley will stay for at least one more season.

Lastly, come the Dallas Cowboys. Head coach Mike McCarthy’s seat cooled off tremendously following the team’s stellar performance against Tampa Bay in the Wild Card, but an abysmal performance against San Francisco this weekend could heat it up in a heartbeat.

The Cowboys will have a late first-round draft pick regardless of how they perform against the 49ers. No price will be too big to pay for Jerry Jones if he believes Payton is the final piece to a championship puzzle.

When it comes down to the Texans, outside of the Chargers and Cowboys, whom both appear to be long shots for Payton, there is no incentive to trade a first-round pick this year for Payton if both sides agree to work together.

For a team that has holes across various positions, trading away the No. 12 pick is not a wise move, even if it does land the most qualified candidate on the market. Houston could offer next year’s Cleveland first-round pick, which with a full year of Watson will likely be a later first-round pick.

Could adding a fourth-round pick this season on top of next year’s first be enough for the Saints? The thing about this scenario, which favors the Texans, is that in the event both sides agree they are the right fit for each other, there is not really much leverage New Orleans can use to increase the price.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis wouldn’t send Payton, the 15-year leader of the organization, to a team he does not want to coach for just because they are offering a greater draft pick, or a first-round selection this year.

At the end of the day, it comes down to Payton and what he wants. If Houston is his landing spot, then there is a good chance the Texans could get him for a lesser price than this year’s 12th overall pick.

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