NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Fred Faour: D'Antoni, Rockets in uncharted territory for Game 7

Mike D'Antoni probably won't have Chris Paul tonight, but he has a chance. Rockets.com

It all comes down to one game. 

The Rockets got off to a hot start, but withered in the second half, falling to the Warriors 115-86 Saturday night.

The end result is a Game 7 Monday night at Toyota Center with a spot in the NBA Finals on the line. This is why the Rockets got home court -- for this game. 

Regardless of what happens, it has been a remarkable ride. The Rockets have had an amazing run, and if you had said before the season started they would host a Game 7 with a trip to the Finals on the line, anyone would have taken it.

The scene in the building should be insane. The Warriors are six point favorites to end the Rockets season, presumably because Chris Paul is unlikely to play. In the Warriors' three wins, all the games were blowouts. The Rockets won Game 2 in a rout, then gutted it out with tough efforts in Games 4 and 5. 

To win Game 7, they will need a similar effort. Strong defense, a big game from the supporting cast and some clutch plays down the stretch. Without Paul, they can still win. But it will take their best effort of the series. 

Make no mistake, the Warriors are favored for a reason. But if the Rockets can play their A game and keep it close, the Warriors have proven vulnerable in the tight games. 

They key might be what Mike D'Antoni comes up with. By now, both teams know what the other will do and it will likely come down to execution. If D'Antoni can create some wrinkles, it might make the difference. This is uncharted territory for D'Antoni, whose other conference finals appearances resulted in a five-game loss to the Spurs and a six-game loss to the Mavericks more than 10 years ago in Phoenix.

Under Steve Kerr, the Warriors have gone to Game 7s twice, both in 2016. They beat the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, then lost to the Cavs in the Finals. So the experience edge goes to Kerr and the Warriors. But since Kevin Durant arrived, this is the first time the Warriors have been pushed beyond five games.

As a sports fan, this is all you can ask for. One game, the best against the best.

For a shot at a title.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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