Overcoming for the future

Are the Rockets' problems solved after the win Tuesday night?

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After the Rockets four game losing streak, they were finally able to pull off a win against the Timberwolves. It took them to the end of the 3rd quarter to grasp the lead. Are teams starting to figure out the Rockets strategy of the small ball rotation?

In the last four games, the Rockets shot 29% from three. Things have looked tough for a team who shoots nothing but three-point shots. The three-point shot is part of the Rockets small ball equation. So, to see that the Rockets shot 39% from three Tuesday night, was relieving. This is the type of confidence the Rockets need going forward.

The Rockets biggest struggle has been rebounding the basketball. Opposing teams in the last five games have outrebounded the Rockets 242 to 198. Hopefully Daryl Morey made the right decision of trading Clint Capela. The Rockets have been struggling the in the paint. At first, Robert Covington and PJ Tucker did a great job of rebounding for the team. But, are these two guys wearing down? They make up for 73 rebounds together in the last five games. This is not even half of the team's rebounds. Russell Westbrook is a great rebounder but has much bigger things on his plate.

Even though James Harden is averaging 28.2 ppg these last five games, he is shooting 37.3% from the field. Hopefully Harden finds his stroke again after scoring 37 points Tuesday night. He is the most important factor if the Rockets want to finish the season strong. It is important that Harden builds his confidence before the playoffs start in Houston. Harden has also struggled with turnovers in these last five games. Against the Magic he had 10 but Tuesday night 3. Which is much better for Harden because it allows the team to flow.





Westbrook on the other hand, is still able to stay consistent after being snubbed for Western Conference Player of the Month. Even though he played three games in the Rockets four game losing streak, Westbrook was still consistent. He is averaging 26 ppg and shooting 47.5% from the field in five games. After beating the Timberwolves Tuesday night, Westbrook and Harden look to be on the same page again. Things were starting to look shaky again after playing well together in February.



Things will not get easier for the Rockets because they play the Lakers next on Thursday. Hopefully, the Rockets stay consistent with their new style of play.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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