FALCON POINT

Fred Faour: Observations on the Rockets, Derby and more

James Harden and the Rockets will be playing the Warriors soon. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

To the surprise of no one, the Rockets took a 3-1 lead in their series with the Jazz with a grind-it-out, wire-to-wire win Sunday night in Utah. Chris Paul took control with his midrange jumpers, scored 27 points and the Rockets are one inevitable win from what we have all been waiting for -- a series with the Warriors. 

There really is not much left to say about this series. The Jazz had a nice season, and should be happy to get this far. But they are simply not in the same stratosphere as the Rockets, who did not play all that well Sunday night, yet still did the Jazz in their own barn. 

Consider this: The Rockets shot just 42 percent -- 26.3 percent on 3-pointers -- and turned the ball over 13 times. They played a Jazz-style game, and still they coasted to a 13-point win. Their defense carried the day, and Utah simply does not have the weapons to compete with the Rockets in a seven-game series. The Rockets should close this out in five and we finally get what has been inevitable for months -- Rockets-Warriors for the whole thing. 

Derby daze

If you followed us leading up to Saturday's Kentucky Derby, you did not win money. But you did see a historic performance from Justify. He survived ridiculous early fractions, and accomploished something that had not been done since 1882 -- won the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. His trainer, Bob Baffert, compared him to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and the incredible Arrogate afterwards. He might even be better than those two monsters. To win the Derby in just his fourth start is incredible.

Our horses did not have much excuse. Bolt D'Oro chased the hot pace, then wilted when the real running started in the worst performance of his career. Combatant should have had the perfect setup, but he did not fire either. Enticed had a world of trouble -- like about 10 other horses -- and never had a real shot. 

As we move to the Preakness, Justify looks very tough to beat. We will be trying to make money off exactas and trifectas with long shots behind him. One of the oddities of the Derby is with 20 horses, you will always have at least six or seven that get taken out due to traffic. Saturday's race eliminated even more than that. That will give us some good prices on legitimate contenders. But barring something weird, we are probably looking at another Triple Crown winner. Horses make their legacy by accomplishing special things, and what this horse did Saturday could not be done. On a side note, it was great meeting so many blitzers on raceday. Nothing better than getting a chance to meet fun people. We did not win, but expect us to bounce back in a big way two weeks from now.

Stop being jerks, please

I am going to dive into this with more detail later in the week, but the inner city is really growing when it comes to the bike community. As such, car drivers need to be more aware and considerate. But it goes both ways; cyclists need to do the same. We did a ride on Sunday, and many of the cyclists were frankly inconsiderate jerks who almost caused several issues. Stay tuned to SportsMap for more details later in the week.

Patriot Paws/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

It's that time of year: Houston Ballet's packed and popular Nutcracker Market will be held Thursday, November 14, through Sunday, November 17, at NRG Center with more than 100,000 shoppers expected to scoop up everything "Christmasy" that can fit under a tree, down a chimney, on a dinner table or you can put a bow on it.

About 260 merchants, including 23 rookie booths, will kick back 11 percent of their sales toward the Houston Ballet Foundation. When you add in all the admission money, thousands of Houston area students will get a valuable lesson in the arts.

As always, all roads will lead to booth 920, to the back and to the right in NRG Center, where the Donne Di Domani ladies will be selling their legendary marinara sauce for the 28th year. Donne Di Domani means "Women of Tomorrow" in Italian, or "Spaghetti Sauce Ladies" in plain English.

The sauce is still $10 a bottle, credit cards accepted. If you buy a 12-bottle case for $120, they'll throw in a dozen recipe cards guaranteed to please the family, including your uncle who comes to your house each Christmas and does nothing but complain about your cooking.

Here's why I love writing about these ladies. Sure their sauce is amazing. Consider this a warning: If you wait till Sunday to buy the sauce, you'll be the little piggy who had none. But the real story is what Donne Di Domani does with their profits — we're talking millions here. Yeah, they sell a lot of sauce.

Each year, after the market closes and they total up the profits, the ladies decide which charities they'll support. It's a long list of organizations such as Shelter for Cancer Families, Casa Juan Diego, Triumph Over Kid Cancer, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Carmelite Nuns of New Caney, and many more.

One year, when I was in the hospital getting my X-rays touched up, I heard that Sister Angel and the Carmelite Nuns said a prayer for me. Wrong church, wrong pew, but I'll take it.

Pawsing for our heroes
The charities may change, but the ladies will always support an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families. Last year the charity was Folded Flag, which lends a hand to widows and children of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

In recent years, Donne Di Domani sponsored service dogs trained by Patriot Paws in Rockwell, Texas. I've been to Rockwell and seen how these remarkable dogs help wounded veterans get through their day. It costs $30,000 to train a dog, and the dogs are given free to vets who need them. Donne Di Domani so far has sponsored four Patriot Paws dogs:

"Hoffy," who was named after me (best honor I ever received), didn't make the grade. His mind wandered and he didn't concentrate on his studies. (The acorn sure didn't fall far from the tree.)

Continue on CultureMap to find out what happened to "Hoffy."

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