OFF THE TOP OF MY BALD HEAD

Barry Warner: Rockets fizzle in Game 1, plus a look at the rest of the NBA, Texans and Astros

Kevin Durant is an unstoppable force. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Rockets were sloppy, tentative and had no rhythm, while the Warriors were free and easy with their ball movement and shooting in their 119-106 Game 1 win.

The Rockets had no swag, made too many mental mistakes, committed 16 turnovers, spent way too much time dribbling with their isolation.

After a tied first half, the Warriors opened up a seven-point lead at the end of the third quarter,

Sure, James Harden was terrific, scoring 41 of the hardest points he has scored. The Warriors shot 33 times over the Beard, wearing him out.

The Rockets did not get the ball to Chris Paul for the mid-range jumper. He scored 23 and dished out 11 assists.

Where were the 3s getting nothing but net?

Regardless who was guarding Kevin Durant, it did not matter. He simply is impossible to stop. The one and done from Texas had 37.

Klay Thompson had 28 while Steph Curry added 18.

Golden State has the rings.  You cannot discount the experience factor.  What the fans do not see is they are the best defense the Rockets have faced.  They forced the Rockets into shot possession mistakes and way off balance, awkward attempts. Then you add the mismatch with Kevin Durant. Unless the bench of Gordon, Green and Mbah a Moute are stellar each night the Rockets will watch the Finals on TV.

That’s why my prediction is Golden State in six.

Jeff Van Gundy was my guest on Reality Check last Friday

Among the topics covered was the career high by Chris Paul in the finale against overmatched Utah.

 "CP 3 is fabulous and he has been so good for so so long. But the focus has been more on negative, rather than how good he his.  Remember, he was dominant since his rookie year in New Orleans. The variety he gives Mike on pick and roll gives him a chance at scoring the best mid-range jumper in the league

“His level of assertiveness offensively has been terrific,” the colorful former Rockets coach stated.

Paul’s friendship with Steph Curry goes back to the great shooter’s rookie season.  Chris went out of his way to help the budding star.  The two still hang out together during the off seasons and text during the year.

Curry missed 31 games during the regular season. The fact he is so well rested is yet another major advantage for the defending champs.

Cav-nots?

The Celtics lost Gordon Hayward early, then Kyrie Irving late, but they beat LeBron and the Cavs by 25 in Game 1. It’s yet another reminder to the world of sports why Danny Ainge is one of the great executives in modern NBA history, and why Brad Stevens is the best basketball coach working right now, in either college or the pros.

Just imagine how much more fun the Eastern Conference finals would be if Kyrie were in the gym, doing the same things for his new team the way he used to when he was LeBron's wingman in Cleveland?

Bad Rap?

Raptors coach Dwane Casey   was named the National Basketball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year. The choice on its own did not raise eyebrows, as Casey led the Raptors to 59 wins and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, four games ahead of the Celtics.

A few days later Toronto management fired him. It is important to remember that in life, as well as sports, that the grass can be browner on the other side.

Change can also lead to worse product, worse record or worse balance sheet for the company or franchise that makes the new hire.

Fat chance, Texans

The Texans placed guard Jeff Allen on reserve PUP list.

 If you believe that then you believe in Santa Claus and pigs flying. The Texans are trying to avoid a lawsuit. Cutting the slob was not exactly earth-shattering news.  The former KC Chief guard was signed to take the place Of Brandon Brooks who signed a free agent contract with the Super Bowl Eagles.

It was yet another example of where the former GM Rick Smith Mc Nair made an error.

Allen came here and looked like the Pillsbury Dough boy in uniform.  He was fat, sloppy and not very strong, not exactly looking like an NFL player.  True, he did have both ankle and concussion problems, but losing the Battle of the Bulge cost him a job here.

You bet

Sanity has finally prevailed in the highest court in the land.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been openly meeting with bookmakers from Vegas casinos. The most visionary of commissioners, the NBA’s Adam Silver, has long been in favor of legalized gambling.

Now that Las Vegas has hockey and the amazing Golden Knights, they too can see the future.

All leagues would see an increase in their revenues by getting a percentage of the take.

But not the league that wallows in hypocrisy, the NFL. Why do you think they had the networks put in the ten-minute ticker? The masses still watch in part because of fantasy football.

The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year.

Texas will be among the last states to finally get their heads out of the sand.  We have no casinos, yet the state is content to let millions of dollars go across the border to Louisiana casinos.

On the Astros

Charlie Morton lowered his ERA to 2.03. Two teammates, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, are the only two with lower ERAs in the AL. It was nice to see Evan Gattis finally wake up with a pair of homers and four RBI’s for the streaky DH.

I am concerned about the 0-13 slump of Jose Altuve, sending his batting average to .302.

Dallas Kuechel is now 3-5, as he used his new four seamer to give up only three hits in the Mother’s Day win over Texas.






 

                               




 

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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