HARVEY RELIEF

Denver Broncos star returns home to Houston to help with Harvey efforts

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders recently touched down in Houston to contribute to hurricane recovery efforts. Marcy de Luna

Story originally appeared on Culture Map/Houston.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders recently touched down in Houston to contribute to hurricane recovery efforts.

The Texas-native, who played high school football in Bellville, and college football at Southern Methodist University, has family and a residence in the Bayou City. Thus, the destruction caused by Harvey hit home for the two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl 50 Champion, where he was the leading receiver in Denver's win over Carolina.

According to the Denver Post, Sanders solicited at least $40,000 from his Broncos teammates through the Emmanuel Sanders Foundation to help with relief efforts, with part of the funds going towards 10,000 diapers that were donated to local families in need. Another portion went to food, water, and supplies for Houstonians.

Sanders flew to Houston on a bye week to contribute another $10,200 of the money raised to the Houston Community ToolBank. The tool lending program, a nonprofit organization, puts high-quality tools in the hands of volunteers who are working to repair homes and roofs, as well as restore public spaces.

During his trip home, he met with the media and toured the ToolBank’s facility to see first-hand where the funds are going. “It was important for me to show up and show my face and see who was going to be handling it (the donated funds)," he said. "Now that I’ve seen it, I know that it’s going to a great place and a great cause. I like what the ToolBank is doing, it’s amazing.”

Sanders told reporters it’s been four months since he was last home and was out of town when Harvey hit. He recalled watching the devastation on TV and feeling helpless. “It looked like it was Photoshopped. I thought, ‘That can’t be I-10. That can’t be 59. How is that possible?’ It was definitely devastating to see,” he said.

Sanders also noted that he was grateful to have come out nearly unscathed from the hurricane. "My family came out well. My house got a little leakage in the roof … other than that everybody is good. God is good.”

But Sanders suffered his own misfortune upon returning to Denver. He sprained his ankle late in the third quarter of the Broncos' 23-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday and will miss this weekend's game against the San Diego Chargers.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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