THE PALLILOG

Charlie Pallilo: On UH winning, the Rockets on a roll going into the break and Astros talk

James Harden and the Rockets are on a historic pace. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It didn’t quite wake up the echoes of Phi Slama Jama, but it was quite a night Thursday for the University of Houston basketball program. The Cougars taking down the 5th ranked team in the nation beating Cincinnati 67-62 doesn’t quite clinch an NCAA Tournament bid for UH, but the Coogs should feel free to order their dancing shoes. It will be just their second Big Dance appearance in the last quarter century.

Texas Southern’s Health and Physical Education Arena has served the Cougars well as a temporary home this season (and it’s a good thing because there’s a strong possibility the new Fertitta Center won’t be ready for the start of next season). UH is now 13-0 there. The joint wasn’t quite two-thirds full for Cincinnati, but the joint was jumpin’. Frankly the atmosphere was better than that at Toyota Center for most Rockets’ games—which is ridiculous given the Rockets’ magnificence this season, but whatever.

UH gets its 20th win of the season and has achieved something that even the final Phi Slamma Jamma team (1983-84) did not: beat 2 teams ranked 7th or higher in the national rankings. The win was the Cougars’ first over a Top 5 team since 1996.

Kelvin Sampson is simply an outstanding coach. His undersized team does the signature thing that most Sampson teams have done, reeeeally sink their teeth in on defense. Cincy is no offensive powerhouse, but the UH D absolutely suffocated the Bearcats who made one field goal over a 12 minute stretch in the second half.

Rockets on a roll

Behold the tedium of NBA All-Star Weekend! Nothing tedious about the Rockets. They are rightfully happy to have a week off, but it feels a bit like pushing the pause button on their tidal wave of momentum. Their second 10+ game winning streak of the season coupled with Golden State splitting its last eight games means for the first time ever the Rockets have the NBA’s best record at the break. 44-13! It would now take a borderline collapse for the Rockets to not break the franchise record for wins in a season. The ’93-’94 squad posted 58 wins. All these Rockets need to top that is a 15-10 finish.

Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright choosing the Rockets as buyout-free agents shouldn’t be that a big deal in bolstering the Rockets. Where is there regular significant playing time for either? Johnson played 31 minutes in his Rockets’ debut Wednesday, but Eric Gordon didn’t play and Trevor Ariza remains out. Wright should be an upgrade over Tarik Black as Clint Capela’s backup on the nights Nene sits out. The Johnson and Wright additions might be bigger in that the Rockets landing them means the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, or other possible Rockets’ playoff opponents didn’t get them.

When the league comes out of hibernation next Friday there will be two compelling Western Conference races over the final seven weeks of the regular season. The Rockets and Warriors are in a match race for the top seed, then there are eight teams chasing the other six spots. The Spurs sit third best in the West, but may presently have the 10th best team. No sign of Kawhi Leonard returning. LaMarcus Aldridge and Manu Ginobili hobbled into the break. That the Spurs could wind up in the draft lottery just seems preposterous, but they are just three and a half games ahead of the 9th place Clippers and four and a half ahead of the 10th place Jazz who roared into the break on an 11 game winning streak. The Spurs’ preposterous run of 18 consecutive seasons winning at least 50 games may be coming to an end. Or, Leonard and Aldridge could both be healthy by mid-April and be a dangerous low seed.

Astros are back

We’re under six weeks to the Astros beginning their World Series Champion defense March 29th in Arlington. We’ll see how soon Manager A.J. Hinch settles upon Justin Verlander or Dallas Keuchel as his opening day starting pitcher. For the best of reasons there really are no compelling Astros’ storylines this spring. They are loaded both in the everyday lineup and on the pitching staff.

The silence is neither golden nor deafening re: absolutely no indication of the Astros attempting (or being rebuffed in an attempt) to talk contract extension with Jose Altuve. The reigning MVP is under contract this year as their 10th highest paid player (tied with Tony Sipp. Tony Sipp!). The Astros control Altuve with an option for 2019 that slates him to make less money than Pat Neshek among many, many others.

Buzzer Beaters

 1. Cake doughnuts are much better than yeast doughnuts   2. I would try the luge but not the skeleton.  3. Favorite NBA All Star Game memories:  Bronze-vacant  Silver-vacant  Gold-Magic Johnson in 1992

ART BY JESUS RODRIGUEZ

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

GOOD DEED OF THE DAY

The Houston Community Warriors are hosting a dinner to support the Houston Foodbank, there are tickets available for sale and you can just make donations if you'd like. The Houston Food Bank is here for those in need, keeping people fed when so many people these days have seemingly turned their back on the world, these guys feed people. Help them feed people, please.

OF COURSE HE IS

I didn't know this but when he was about 26 years old Joe Pesci, yeah that Joe Pesci, was a singer. He had an album out called "Little Joe Sure Can Sing." That is very much a 1960s album title if I ever heard one, and in 1998 he released another album. I bring this all up because he's back with another album called "Still Singing" which is a great album title whenever you release it. On the album there's a duet with Adam Levine, *sigh* yes, that Adam Levine, called "Baby Girl" and it's on the internet for googling and listening to. It isn't the worst thing you've heard all week I promise and honestly the internet is a weird enough place that I really see this getting traction. He's going for a crooner, old school Vegas lounge act singing style and it isn't bad and you can definitely tell its him singing. Please if you need to distract yourself for five minutes today you should check this song out, it feels like it's from another era.

HUSTLER

J Lo is making the media rounds trying to pretend like she doesn't care if she's nominated for an Oscar or not and in recent interviews she suggests that she didn't get paid to star in her film "Hustler" which she also produced. Isn't that the point of producing films though? Like if you're a movie star who is going to produce the movie that you're in, isn't the point of that because you are going to reap a big windfall on the back end by cutting costs by not paying a big name actor (yourself) to make the movie. Rather than get a $20 million dollar check to be in someone else's movie, you pay $50 million to own the entire film and keep the lion's share of the profits which are hopefully a lot more than the $50 million you put in. I know it sounds good to say out loud but she produced the film for crying out loud, of course she didn't pay herself. Seems obvious, but maybe not.

SNYDER CUT

In the comic fandom world there is this weird movement where lots of people are clamoring for the Snyder Cut of the Justice League movie. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, first of all be proud of yourself because this is a dumb one. Zack Snyder was the director for Justice League, which was his third foray into the DC universe after directing Man of Steel and then Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now neither of these movies were critically beloved or overwhelmingly recognized as well-crafted stories but they made good money and he had a linear concept for the movies and therefore Warner Bros studio tasked him with making Justice League, and creating a trilogy of sorts, now there were tons of issues and problems with the movie and the studio wasn't liking what he was showing them in meetings and there were problems, then sadly his daughter took her own life and Snyder stepped back to deal with issues at home. Joss Whedon was brought on to finish the film and lighten up the tone, the resulting reshoots blew up the budget including Paramount refusing to allow Cavill to shave so Warner Bros had to digitally take out a moustache that Henry Cavill's character in Mission Impossible had now grown because reshoots went so beyond what was scheduled. So in $25 million dollars of reshoots, there's a Superman with a weird lip. Anyway the movie comes out and it is hated by lots of people and is viewed as a failure and from there the DC movies have kind of ground to a halt and the connected universe seems to have been blown up with Wonder Woman making period piece movies, Aquaman staying in the movie universe, and a new Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey being "loosely connected" in the sense that Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn and she shared a scene with Ben Affleck's Batman in Suicide Squad. You get all that? Basically the version of the movie that was released broke the universe it was so bad. Well now fans and the actors themselves are clamoring for the release of "the Snyder Cut" as though his version is a better film and allegedly the studio is in talks to find a way to release it somehow, perhaps as a special feature on an upcoming anniversary release. I hope they do and I hope its somehow worse and all of these crazy people have to eat so much crow, not like they will, but a guy can dream.

NOT THAT YOU ASKED

Just found out about a really great charity that I'll be doing an event with next month and I don't want to steal the Food Bank's thunder so I'm going to wait until after this week but honestly, this might be my favorite charity yet… stay tuned!

Feel free to check out my brand-new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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