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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With so much on the line for the Astros this past weekend, they couldn't possibly get swept by the Royals, could they?

That's exactly what they did thanks to some poor pitching, and an inability to get timely hits with runners in scoring position.

The Astros are currently clinging to the last wild card position as they head to Seattle to face the Mariners, with Justin Verlander on the mound for the 'Stros.

Starting pitching has been the biggest issue for the club as of late, with Hunter Brown looking unusable moving forward. Brown has given up, wait for this, 6 earned runs or more in 3 of his last 4 starts. His ERA for the season is now over 5.

So how will the rotation look over the final stretch of games? We know for the Mariners series the team is rolling out Verlander, Cristian Javier, and Framber Valdez.

The club is off on Thursday, and they head to Arizona for a 3-game series with the Diamondbacks that starts Friday. We predict JP France will pitch Friday, with Justin Verlander likely taking the ball Saturday.

Then all bets are off for Sunday. It could be Framber on 3-days rest, or all hands on deck for a bullpen game.

Of course, with the division race being so close, things could change on a daily basis. There's even a scenario where Arizona secures their wild card, and the final two games of the season don't matter for them.

The other big factor will be the outcome of the 4-game Rangers-Mariners series that finishes off the season.

Be sure to watch the video above as we examine all the scenarios leading up to the end of the regular season for Houston, and much more!

Watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Thursday on SportsMap Houston's YouTube channel.

And listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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