BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

After a tough loss to the Lakers, here are the adjustments that need to be made

The Rockets were no match for the Lakers. Photo by Getty Images.

Sunday night, the Houston Rockets got a reality check against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers as they fell 120-102. The Rockets struggled in all categories of basketball against the Lakers. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Lakers' bench dominated the Rockets throughout the course of the game. Houston failed their first actual test against a championship caliber team, but it's still early.

1) Turnovers killed Houston

It was an ugly scene as the Rockets turned the ball over 21 times while the Lakers capitalized with 32 points off those turnovers. The Rockets got beat in transition, which eventually lead to fast break points. Having turnovers against the Lakers is clearly hurtful to any opposing NBA team. James Harden, John Wall, and Eric Gordon led the Rockets' backcourt in turnovers, which was 15. In eight games, the Rockets are 10th in turnovers by having 14.3 per game.

"Two things for us were the turnovers and transition," Stephen Silas mentioned after the Rockets loss against the Lakers. "The transition doesn't have anything to do with us being together for a day, a month, or a year. Run back."

LeBron and AD were contagious in transition when it came to beating the Rockets down the court. James had success with outlet passes down the court to AD and other teammates or off defensive rebounds. The Lakers had 13 steals but their leaders in that category were Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker. Caruso had three steals while Horton-Tucker finished with four steals. The Rockets made a run with 1:33 left in the 3rd quarter until Gordon lost the ball because of good defense by Horton-Tucker, which led to Caruso diving for the ball and Horton-Tucker finishing at the other end with a dunk.

2) The Lakers' bench outscored Houston's

The Lakers pounded the Rockets in bench performance as well, which helped them throughout the game. Horton-Tucker, Montrezl Harrel, and Kyle Kuzma hurt the Rockets in various actions and open shots. The Lakers led the Rockets' bench 54-35. Honestly, the Rockets would have had more support off the bench if DeMarcus Cousins wasn't ejected. Cousins was already 50 percent from three in eight minutes of play with six points and four rebounds. This is the second time Cousins has been ejected this season.

The Rockets struggled in their half-court sets because of spacing and the Lakers ability to close-out on shooters. In the first half, the Lakers used a 1-4 box zone defense to counteract the 5-out offense the Rockets used to create space for pick-n-rolls, pick-n-pops, simple cutting actions, and open shots. The Rockets had struggled to find their offense and getting quality shots because of the Lakers' defense. The 2nd quarter of basketball was a debacle for the Rockets as they only scored 25 points to the Lakers 40 points. The Rockets shot barely 41 percent from the field and 29 percent behind the 3-point line.

"Our spacing wasn't very good. [The Lakers] are a big team," Harden expressed towards the media. "When you don't over-exaggerate your spacing, you get caught in areas you don't wanna be in."

3) Divvying up the minutes is still a work in progress

The biggest problem with the Rockets' offense is figuring out the new schemes, correct spacing, and player personnel. Silas admitted after beating the Orlando Magic on Friday that it's hard figuring out who is getting the correct amount of minutes. Ben McLemore had 15 points in his first game back with the Rockets but only played 17 minutes versus the Lakers, which was towards the 4th quarter. When Danuel House comes back, it will become harder to pick and choose who gets minutes. David Nwaba didn't see any minutes versus the Sacramento Kings because of Wall, Gordon, and Cousins coming back for the Rockets' third game. As soon as House went on the injury list, Nwaba began to start in his spot.

If anybody's minutes should be revoked, it should be PJ Tucker's. Tucker's defensive rating has dropped insanely to 116.8 from 108.9 in the previous season with the Rockets. His stat line was completely blank at the end of the first half versus the Lakers. The 25-year-old Jae' Sean Tate should easily replace the 35-year-old Tucker at the power forward position. Tate is much younger and in eight games, his defensive rating is 105.7. Even though Tate is 6'4, he weighs 230lbs and was seen backing up James in the post for a score. Tate is also more versatile for the Rockets offense and fits the scheme better. McLemore and Tate should easily get more minutes than Tucker.

Christian Wood is still a work in progress when it comes to his defense as he struggled against the Lakers. He is still trying to figure out the correct spots to be at on defense, meaning drop coverage and correct switching. Wood also struggles in one-on-one situations as 35-year-old Marc Gasol scored on the lower post. It's hard for Wood to stay in front of his opponent when on defense. Wood's defensive rating on the year is 116.8, which hopefully improves over time.

Even though Wood struggled defensively, LeBron still gave him props while he was taking shots at the free-throw line. Hopefully, that keeps Wood's confidence high as his season goes on.

The Rockets are still a work in progress when it comes to the new offense and personnel. I am completely confident the Rockets will figure it out, so they'll be ready for Tuesday night when they play the Lakers again, and hopefully in the playoffs.

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Houston has lost back-to-back games

Astros drop series to Giants with finale loss

Houston's offense came up short again in San Francisco on Sunday. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games against the Giants, the Astros tried to grab the finale to win his high-difficulty series. They came up short, though, with San Francisco once again one-upping them on offense against Luis Garcia, giving Houston back-to-back losses.

Final Score: Giants 5, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 64-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Logan Webb (5-3)

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia (7-6)

Gurriel strikes first, but Giants get the better of Garcia

The Astros were able to grab an early lead against Logan Webb in the top of the first, getting a runner on base to set up Yuli Gurriel for a two-run homer to start the scoring. Luis Garcia, who erased a walk in the first and a double in the second to maintain the 2-0 advantage, ran into trouble in the third. After two quick outs, Kris Bryant, recently acquired by the Giants at the trade deadline, changed the momentum with a solo homer in the first game for his new team.

They scored two more runs during the two-out rally on three hits and a walk, grabbing a 3-2 lead before Garcia would get the final out. He managed a scoreless fourth, but San Francisco got to him again in the fifth, chasing him out of the game with a two-out, two-run homer to extend their lead to 5-2. His final line in the loss: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 89 P.

Giants take series as Astros drop the finale

First out of Houston's bullpen was Rafael Montero, making his debut for his new team. He did well, getting the third out of the fifth then tossing a scoreless sixth. Phil Maton was next, coming in for the bottom of the seventh and erasing a single to keep it a three-run game. After wasting a chance with two runners on in the seventh, the Astros started a new rally in the top of the eighth, getting back-to-back hits to lead it off with runners on first and third with no outs.

They would get just one run from it, though, making it 5-3, which would go final after a scoreless bottom of the eighth by Ryne Stanek and a 1-2-3 inning at the plate by Houston in the top of the ninth. That gave the Giants the series and left the Astros reeling from back-to-back losses as they turn the page to another high-caliber opponent to finish this road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel to the last leg of this road trip, Los Angeles, before a day off on Monday. Tuesday, they'll pick up a quick two-game series with the Dodgers, with Lance McCullers Jr. (8-2, 3.23 ERA) for the Astros going up against Walker Buehler (11-1, 2.19 ERA) for LA in the opener at 9:10 PM Central.

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