A NEW ERA IS HERE

All the reasons Christian Wood looks like the real deal for Rockets

What a night for Christian Wood! Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

Thursday night, the Rockets faced the Spurs and I personally enjoyed the ball movement inside of head coach Stephen Silas' offense. The Rockets' head coach called plays that involved screens and moving without the ball. James Harden killed the narrative of not being able to play off the ball, as he scored off catch-and-shoot multiple times. In my opinion, Harden is buying into Silas' system. Harden finished Thursday night with 20 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds in 27 minutes of action.

Another thing that I enjoyed was the play of 6'10 Christian Wood, as he was dominant from all over the court. Harden and Wood destroyed the San Antonio Spurs in the pick-n-pop and pick-n-roll formations. Woods was effective inside for the Rockets, as he used his big frame to control the paint. He also wasn't hesitant to shoot from long range, as he shot 2 of 6 (33%) from the perimeter. Wood even collected 10 rebounds versus the Spurs, which is another reason that micro-ball will not be missed. At the end of Thursday's game, Wood finished with 27 points in 24 minutes.

It was a pleasure watching Wood being disruptive with his creativity towards the basket. When Wood was 8-10 ft from the hoop, he was able to create off the dribble. This is a huge upgrade from Clint Capela, and very encouraging to see more production from a big man in Houston's offense. Wood deserves to be the starter over DeMarcus Cousins because of his youth, athleticism, and upside.

Eric Gordon looks more inventive playing in Silas' offense and became extremely active. Gordon looks more confident, as he shot 44 percent from the perimeter and finished with 23 points Thursday night. Of course, Gordon has been through recent struggles with shooting the basketball, but if he stays healthy and optimistic, he'll have a great season. Silas has created more opportunities for Gordon off the ball, as he scored the first basket on a variety of screens.

The roster looks completely set for this upcoming season. David Nwaba, Sterling Brown, Bruno Caboclo, and Jae'Sean Tate could equally fight for rotation minutes. All four players have been impressive inside of preseason and training camp. It will be a tough decision for Silas to make because of the talent of each player. Those four definitely had something to prove during training camp and preseason.

Brown's efforts have been noticeable on defense, and he's also been able to run the point on offense. Which the Rockets desperately need, so they have a backup for John Wall. Caboclo has been impressive on offense because of his shooting and being able to set screens. Nwaba has shown ability on defense for the Rockets and is also averaging two assists per game. Tate can become great in the pick-n-pop and pick-n-roll for the Rockets, as he scored 11 points on Tuesday night versus the Spurs.

Hopefully, Harden stays, Cousins and Wall stay healthy, Wood continues to dominate, Gordon remains confident with his shooting, and Silas stays consistent with the ball movement on offense. That's a lot of ifs, but this roster has some serious potential if they can put it all together.

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The Astros will look to bounce back after a tough week. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After a 6-3 record to start the season, the Houston Astros had a tumultuous week to say the least. They were swept by the Tigers, lost 2 of 3 games to the Seattle Mariners and placed five players on the COVID injured list.

The Tigers' new manager AJ Hinch returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the Astros let him go after the cheating scandal in early 2020.

The Tigers swept the Astros and outscored them 20-8 over their three matchups.

Before the 3rd game of the series, the Astros found out they would be without five players on their active roster. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia were all placed on the COVID-19 injury reserved list.

"It's hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. "And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones and Abraham Toro were called up as well as Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson who made their major league debuts last week.

The Tigers were able to score runs early on Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jake Odorizzi (who made his Astros debut) and none of these starters lasted more than five innings in the outings.

Yuli Gurriel was the one Astros bright spot against the Tigers as he had 7 hits and drove in 2 runs. He is still continuing to hit the ball consistently as he finished the series with a .429 batting average.

After a 1-5 home stand the Astros looked to bounce back on the road against the division leading Seattle Mariners (you read that correctly).

Friday night proved to be the Astros' best offensive performance since their home opener on April 8th against the A's.

They scored five runs on Yusei Kikuchi through 7 innings behind good hitting from Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick and De Goti who drove in two runs on his first major league hit.

The Astros had a 5-2 lead at this point, but Seattle was able to score 4 unanswered to win the game.

Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were credited with those four runs.

Ryan Pressly tried to clean up the bottom of the 9th inning after Stanek put the first two batters on base. His effort was unsuccessfully as Ty France hit a game-ending single that scored J.P. Crawford from second to secure a Mariners victory.

Saturday was the best game of the week for the Astros as they finally broke their six-game losing streak.

After failing to pitch more than five innings on Monday against the Tigers, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings with 91 pitches.

He struck out six batters and gave up only 4 hits.

"That's what aces do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys like (Greinke) ... they stop the bleeding and we're about bled out."

Greinke finished the game with 2,705 career strikeouts. He is now third amongst active players in strikeouts behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Ryan Pressly got some redemption too as he threw a perfect 9th inning giving him his first save of the year.

The Astros won this game 1-0 as Taylor Jones drove in the game's only run with an RBI single.

Sunday's game ended the Astros week with a whimper, as the Mariners bested Houston 7-2.

Jake Odorizzi got off to a good start, but he gave up three hits and was pulled after Mitch Haniger's fifth-inning triple made it a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

Odorizzi is now (0-2) with a 10.57 ERA after two starts with the Astros.

Houston's offensive woes continued Sunday, as Aledmys Díaz had their only hit, an RBI double in the second inning that fell in when outfielder José Marmolejos lost the ball in the sun.

"It's tough to take when you only got one hit and the one hit we got was lost in the sun," Baker said.

UP NEXT: The Astros (7-8) will finish their road trip with a two game series against the Rockies who have the worst record in the league (4-12) before starting an eight-game homestead.

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