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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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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