COMING OUT ON TOP

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans' 31-21 win over Arizona

Jadeveon Clowney played like a superstar. Houston Texans

The Houston Texans’ up and down season continued with a 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at NRG Stadium. Now 4-6 on the season, the Texans aren’t completely out of the hunt for a playoff spot, but it’ll truly be an uphill battle.

The Good

-Bruce Ellington took advantage of the opportunity of more playing time in the absence of Will Fuller. He had 6 catches for 63 yards and some key third down conversions.

-DeAndre Hopkins leads the league in touchdown receptions with 9. While only twp have come from Tom Savage, they looked to have found some chemistry against the Cardinals.

-The run defense was stellar. They held the Cardinals to just 45 yards and a 2.8 per carry average. Benardrick McKinney amd Jadeveon Clowney both had 2 tackles for loss each. Their best play came on a 4th and 1 from Cardinals 34 yard line where they dropped Adrian Peterson for a loss.

-D’Onta Foreman got some consistent carries. He responded by going for 65 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 carries.

The Bad

-No way Blaine Gabbert should have had a career day throwing 3 touchdown passes. The pass defense continues to disappoint as the coverage and pass rush just isn’t cutting the mustard.

-Savage’s ball security is alarming. He had another strip/sack/fumble today. Granted, it was due to a nickelback blitz coming against the awful right tackle Breno Giacomini, but he’s got to do better protecting the football.

-Kevin Johnson went out of the game and will be in concussion protocol. Johnson may not be a top notch cover guy, but he does an adequate job. His biggest contribution may be his hitting, which apparently may have caused his concussion. This is just another in a seemingly laundry list of injuries for the Texans this season.

The Ugly

-Giacomini’s pass blocking at right tackle has been abysmal. He’s a clear sign of what happens when you wait until late in free agency to address a deficiency and there’s nothing but two day old bread left in the bakery.

-Jonathan Joseph has seen his best days of being a reliable cover guy pass him by. He routinely has been getting beat lately. The worst play came against rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. Seals-Jones had about an 8-10 yard cushion on a simple 11 yard out route touchdown catch. We’re talking about a rookie versus a respected veteran.

-Foreman had his breakout performance as a rookie, but his season may be over. On his second touchdown run, he went to the ground not too long after crossing the goal line. Looks like it may be an ankle or lower leg injury. Any time the cart is brought out, it typically means trouble.

On the day the Texans induct Andre Johnson into the Ring of Honor, they also managed to keep their season alive. Getting contributions from guys like Ellington, Foreman, as well as usual suspects Clowney, McKinney, and Hopkins, this was a good win against a beatable opponent at home in front of a crowd that may have come mainly for the halftime festivities. The season may be on life support, and the pastor is still at the hospital to pray with the family expecting the worst, but there’s a glimmer of hope.

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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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