The wait is over

All systems go for Russell Westbrook and the Rockets

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

It was reported that Russell Westbrook had landed in Orlando on Tuesday. Wednesday, Westbrook was cleared to play after being tested for COVID-19. Westbrook informed everybody on Instagram because it was still unknown when he would show up in Orlando. He spoke to the media on Wednesday about his symptoms and said that he is feeling fine now.

"First off, thankful and blessed to be healthy and able to go out and compete. Just quarantining, been at home trying to be productive. Finding ways to stay active...," as Westbrook told the media. "I do know that it's definitely something to take very seriously and understand wearing a mask can be between life or death, honestly."

Even though the NBA was shut down for four months, Westbrook kept his self in excellent condition. Westbrook was seen on Instagram working out with Kevin Hart in Los Angeles. Staying in shape is the most important thing for Westbrook. The Rockets feed off Westbrook's drive and intensity. Coach Mike D'Antoni raved all last week about Westbrook's conditions and health.

"Our medical staff, they'll determine when Russell is ready to go and when he's ready to play 20 mins, 30 mins," D'Antoni said on Sunday. "I do hear he's in pretty good shape and has been ramping up. Hopefully its fairly seamless with some precaution."

Since Westbrook is back at practice, the intensity will pick up. Everybody knows Westbrook's motor could run forever. Westbrook is noticeably big on making sure that his teammates keep the same momentum. The Rockets are getting back their best vocal leader on the court. PJ Tucker was able to describe today's practice as very intense because of Westbrook.

"Practice has been at a pretty high level, but I know today it's about to be through the roof," Tucker said.

Westbrook was highly active during the break, after the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. He even wore the shirt that he wants to promote around the NBA to the Zoom press conference. Westbrook wanted to show respect to the families of the victims who died because of police brutality.

"I wanted to be able to, number one show my respects to the families," Westbrook said. He even made the shirts for the players, so they were able to use words without talking. "Another way to use their voice without talking."

He was seen in Compton hosting protests with YG, the rapper. Westbrook is working on a documentary about the ''Tulsa Race Massacre.'' He is getting the opportunity to work with Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson. In 1921, white mobs in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, destroyed black residents and businesses.

Westbrook is glad that NBA owners are starting to recognize the importance of "Black Lives Matter."

"It's important that our owners, number one, understand all the social injustice that goes on in today's society," Westbrook said. "Understand how meaningful it is for them to show their support."

There is still no timetable of Westbrook playing on Friday against Toronto Raptors in the Rockets first scrimmage. Even though Westbrook is in good physical shape, he wants to be in basketball shape. Westbrook does not want to be on the court too fast, he wants the timing to be perfect.

"I'll take one day at a time. Just be thankful and blessed to be able to go back on the floor and compete," Westbrook said. "When I'm back 100% you will know."

Now the Rocket are just waiting on Luc Mbah a Moute so their whole team can be in sync.

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After a rough, disheartening loss the night before to even the series at one game apiece, the Astros tried to shake it off and regroup for a win on Thursday to get the series win against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Here is a quick recap of the finale:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 5, Astros 4.

Record: 6-6, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Junior Guerra (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Ryan Pressly (0-1, 40.50 ERA).

Bielak tosses an impressive start as Houston puts him in winning position

After both teams finished the first three innings scoreless, the Astros were able to get a little bit of good luck on their side, unlike the night prior. Jose Altuve started the inning with a much-needed single, stole second, then moved to third on a groundout for the second out. That set up Yuli Gurriel, who hit a ball down the third-base line that would strike the bag and bounce away from Arizona, allowing Altuve to score and put Houston up 1-0.

Though he likely would have preferred more run support, Brandon Bielak made do with that one run in his first career MLB start. He was able to complete five innings of work, holding Arizona scoreless over that span despite allowing a runner in each inning. He left in line for the win, with a final line of 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR.

Altuve extends the lead, then Diamondbacks go ahead

Jose Altuve helped double the lead in the top of the sixth, connecting for a one-out solo home run to make it 2-0. With Bielak's night over at five innings, Cy Sneed took over in the bottom of the sixth and allowed back-to-back one-out doubles to cut Houston's lead in half. He allowed a single to put runners on the corners before Dusty Baker would move on to another reliever to try and preserve the lead. Blake Taylor would enter but allowed the tying RBI-single to take Bielak out of winning position. Taylor would go on to allow a go-ahead run before getting out of the jam.

In the bottom of the seventh, Taylor was still on the mound but would only get two outs before another call to the pen. Andre Scrubb would enter and get the final out of the inning. In the top of the eighth, Jose Altuve would improve to 3-for-4 on the night with a two-out double, setting up Alex Bregman for a go-ahead two-run home run to make it 4-3, Houston.

Ryan Pressly allows the walk-off

Scrubb went back to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and was able to record a 1-2-3 inning to move the game to the ninth. After a scoreless top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly would attempt to get the save in the bottom of the inning. Instead, he would allow the walk-off, loading the bases with no outs on a walk and two singles before a two-RBI single to give Arizona the win and the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Oakland to kick off a three-game weekend series with the A's on Friday at 8:10 PM Central. The A's will send Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.93 ERA) to the mound while Houston will turn to Zack Greinke (0-0, 5.00 ERA) to help cut down Oakland's division lead.

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