Fred Faour: 5 thoughts on the Rockets Game 4 win over the Wolves

James Harden brought his offense in the third quarter. Kevin C. Cox

The Rockets took a 3-1 lead with an easy 119-100 win over Minnesota. Here are five thoughts on Monday’s game:

  1. Defense! Defense! The Rockets locked down on the Wolves in the second half. They blocked passing lanes. They took away everything the Wolves were doing right and turned the fourth quarter into garbage time.

  2. Oh, Harden. The MVP went nuts in the third quarter, blowing the game open with 22 points en route to a 36-point game. He sparked a 50-point third quarter.

  3. Chris Paul did not suck. The Rockets had both of their stars playing well, and it made all the difference. He finished with 25 points, 6 assists and 5 steals.

  4. Remember all the panic? Oh, the Rockets aren’t playing well. They could be down 2-1. Bleep that. They will close out the Wolves in five and move on. Nothing will matter until they face Golden State, but they took care of business.

  5. Flash Gordon: Eric Gordon finally had a good game off the bench. The Rockets played well, but not outstanding. And they crushed the Wolves. Despite a meaningless fourth-quarter surge by Minnesota, Houston coasted. Gordon finished with 18 off the pine. With Harden and Paul crushing, this game was over. The Rockets shot over 43 percent from the field, and just over 37 percent on 3s.

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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