ROCKETS REPORT

Here's how the Rockets can get back on track

It's been a rough stretch for the Rockets. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston Rockets have lost their last five out of six games, including going 0-4 without Christian Wood in the lineup. Thursday night's loss versus the Miami Heat was deflating. A plethora of missed threes, bad offensive sequences, and three missed opportunities in the Heat's last possession of the game were big factors in the loss. In the Rockets' press conference, Stephen Silas' frustration showed because of another loss and two more injured players.

Silas apologized twice because of his short responses during his time with the media. The Rockets defense has still been stellar besides two blown-out losses versus the New Orleans Pelicans and Charlotte Hornets. As I dove deeper in the Rockets' losses, there was not enough impactful offensive opportunities. Victor Oladipo's efficiency is down, Wood is still limping from his ankle injury, and PJ Tucker's impact is questionable. Another thing that bothered me is the continuous nights of swap outs between John Wall and Oladipo.

There is an understanding of Wall and Oladipo's injury limitations. The last time the Rockets maxed out Wall's minutes it caused ACL soreness inside his knee. So, I understand the frustration Silas expressed when Oladipo and Tucker went out with injuries against the Heat. Hopefully, Wood can overcome his ankle injury soon.

Oladipo hasn't quite found his stride with the Rockets outside of two games. Coach Silas seems confident that Oladipo will turn it around.

"Victor's gonna get there. Hopefully, his injury isn't too bad. He is a big part of what we do, and one of the reasons we're top five defensively is because of Victor Oladipo," Silas said.

Oladipo's struggles could raise eyebrows in the Rockets' front office before the trade deadline.

The Rockets front office is open-minded, whether they end up flipping him … or whether they decide he is a piece that they want to move forward with," Tim MacMahon said on SNY.

Right now, Oladipo is shooting the three-ball at 29% with the Rockets, which is a career low. Oladipo's offensive rating is a 101.1 and hasn't been that low since his 2014-2015 year with the Orlando Magic. Is Oladipo's past injury affecting him? That could be possible, but Victor is still averaging 18.4 points per game. Oladipo's scoring is still shaky and non-impactful. His shooting efforts have become poor by shooting 38.6% from the field, including 44% in efficiency. Victor has struggled with his play making abilities with the Rockets. He isn't used to doing lobs or setting up teammates for easy opportunities. The "WOW" factor has been affected by injuries and not having enough reps together. Hopefully, Oladipo's injury isn't too serious, and he can turn it around shooting wise.

Another concern involves PJ Tucker and how his minutes have gotten out of control. Without Wood in the lineup, the Rockets scoring is limited. Although the Rockets show fight towards the end of games, they're 23rd in clutch scoring. Tucker cannot help the Rockets in momentum swings and clutch moments. He would be a better fit on a championship contender with multiple shooters surrounding him. Tucker isn't known for lighting up the scoreboard. His defense hasn't been good this season along with his poor shooting. PJ is shooting 38% from the field and his defensive rating became a career worse at 111.0.

As of right now, the Rockets need scoring as they are 24th in offensive efficiency in the NBA. Shockingly, as a team the Rockets are shooting 35% from three.

I want to see the Rockets' front office attack the trade deadline aggressively. Getting Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon could help the Rockets scoring efforts improve. If Houston can find a consistent closeout scorer, they could make a strong push.

Hopefully, Silas maintains his confidence with each player. He was dealt a bad hand in his first year as a head coach, but he's handled it well overall.

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Houston's offense had another strong day at the plate in Seattle against the Mariners on Wednesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After striking a deal with the Mariners before Tuesday's game, along with a reported deal with the Marlins on Wednesday before the finale, the Astros continued to try and bolster their bullpen with fresh arms while also focusing on this series against Seattle. Having won the night prior to even it up, it came down to the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon to decide the series.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 63-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-5)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (6-6)

Astros continue to score runs in Seattle

Just like in the earlier games in this series, the Astros had no problems offensively. They strung together four consecutive one-run innings, starting in the top of the second when they loaded the bases, then got an RBI groundout by Myles Straw to go up 1-0. In the top of the third, Yuli Gurriel drove one in on a two-out RBI double, bringing in Jose Altuve, who led the inning off with a double of his own. Chas McCormick led off with a single in the fourth, then later scored on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.

The fourth run in as many innings came in the top of the fifth, as Gurriel would notch his second RBI with a solo homer to start that inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. They didn't stop there, and neither did Gurriel, as he would get RBI number three on the day as part of a four-run top of the sixth, with RBI hits him, Altuve, Diaz, and Carlos Correa, doubling the lead to 8-0.

Odorizzi gets to the sixth before allowing two homers

The run support gave Jake Odorizzi plenty of leeway, which he didn't need until the bottom of the sixth. He held Seattle scoreless over the first five frames, allowing just four baserunners on a hit by pitch, a walk, and two singles, all peppered over that span and erased in each inning. Kyle Seager would get the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a one-out solo homer to cut the lead to seven runs at 8-1. After a single in the next at-bat, recently traded Abraham Toro made it four games in a row with a homer, this one a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-3 and end Odorizzi's day. His final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 95 P.

Houston wins the series

Houston brought in Brooks Raley to finish the sixth, issuing two walks but stranding them to keep it a five-run lead. Myles Straw helped push that back to six in the top of the seventh, reaching on a single to start the innings, then stealing both second and third to get in position for Diaz's third RBI of the day, a groundout to make it 9-3. Cristian Javier was the next reliever out for the Astros, but he would not make it through the bottom of the seventh, allowing a single and three walks, the third with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Bryan Abreu was brought in to get out of the jam, getting a strikeout to end the seventh. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker would put two more runs on the board with a two-run homer making the lead seven runs at 11-4. Abreu remained in for the bottom of the eighth, erasing two one-out singles to get through the frame. Brandon Bielak took over in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, posting a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win and give Houston the series victory.

Up Next: Houston will travel down the coast to San Fransisco before getting a day off on Thursday. They'll pick up an exciting three-game series with the Giants on Friday, with the opener slated to start at 8:45 PM Central. Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, while San Fransisco's starter is TBD.

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