ROCKETS WIN!

VanVleet has season-high 37 as Rockets defeat Magic

Rockets Fred VanVleet
Rockets defeat Magic, 118-106. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

Fred VanVleet scored a season-high 37 points and the Houston Rockets snapped a five-game skid with a 118-106 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

The Magic fell into a tie for fourth place with Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. They came into the night with a chance to clinch the Southeast Division title with a win and a loss by the Miami Heat, but they couldn’t get it done against Houston and the Heat beat the Hawks 117-111 in double overtime.

“We can't hang our heads,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “We've got to come out and go after Milwaukee tomorrow. That's what it's got to be. Take the lessons from this one. Bounce back tomorrow.”

A basket by Markelle Fultz got the Magic within eight with about four minutes to go but VanVleet made a jump shot followed by a three-point play to make it 114-101 about a minute later to secure the victory.

Paolo Banchero and Jalen Suggs scored 21 points apiece for the Magic and Fultz added 18.

VanVleet made six 3-pointers and had eight rebounds and six assists. Jabari Smith Jr. added 23 points and Dillon Brooks had 15 as the Rockets played their last home game of the season.

“We wanted to continue to build and we know we're out of the race but we have four to go,” coach Ime Udoka said. “We don't want to just lay down and chalk it up... we fought hard and played well.”

The Magic scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter, with the last five from Joe Ingles, to cut the lead to 97-91 with about nine minutes to go.

Houston got its first points of the quarter on a 3-pointer by VanVleet, but Fultz made a layup seconds later.

The Rockets hadn't forgotten about the 116-86 loss they suffered to Orlando in their season opener.

“They kicked our butts the first game of the season,” VanVleet said. “We definitely remember that. So it was good to get some get back there.”

The Rockets led by 12 at halftime and opened the second half with an 11-4 run to make it 74-55 with nine minutes left in the third. Jalen Green had the first five points in that stretch and VanVleet added a 3-pointer.

Houston was up by 18 after another 3 from VanVleet later in the third quarter before the Magic went on a 10-4 run, with five points from Suggs, to get withing 90-78 with 3 ½ minutes left in the quarter.

Soon after that Ingles and Houston’s Cam Whitmore were both given technical fouls after bumping into one another and jawing at each other. Whitmore was ejected 14 seconds after that for arguing with an official after being called for a loose ball foul.

Ingles made two free throws but the Rockets outscored Orlando 5-2 to close out the quarter and take a 97-82 lead into the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT

Magic: Visit Milwaukee Wednesday night.

Rockets: Visit Utah Thursday night.

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Mariners defeat Astros, 3-2. Composite Getty Image.

Bryce Miller allowed two runs over six innings to pick up his first win since April 17, and the Seattle Mariners used a big first inning against Houston starter Framber Valdez to hold on for a 3-2 win over the Astros on Monday night.

Seattle scored three times in the first off Valdez and then leaned on its pitching to make the early lead stand up. Miller did his part and then turned it over to relievers Trent Thornton, Gabe Speier and Andrés Muñoz to close out the victory.

Muñoz got three outs for his 11th save.

Miller (4-5) had lost his last four decisions, including his past three starts. In his four previous May starts, Miller allowed 15 earned runs after yielding just eight runs over six starts during the first month of the season.

But he seemed to rediscover a bit of his dominant form from that first month, striking out six and walking a pair. Miller said part of the success was noticing batters being more aggressive on his pitches early in counts, forcing him to be better with his location.

“For me (it's) just trying to make sure I'm still getting ahead, but with certain hitters in the lineup not making a mistake just trying to get ahead,” Miller said. “Being aggressive on the corner early and then working off of that.”

Miller cruised through the first four innings and retired 12 straight after issuing a walk to Kyle Tucker, the second batter of the game. But he ran into trouble in the fifth when he gave up three straight singles, the last coming from José Abreu, which scored Jake Meyers. Victor Caratini’s sacrifice fly plated another run and after Jose Altuve doubled, Miller escaped the jam by getting a groundout from Tucker.

Miller again pitched out of trouble in the sixth, putting two runners on before Jon Singleton flied out to the warning track in right-center to end the threat.

Abreu was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land ahead of Monday’s game and his single was his first big league hit since April 27. The 2020 AL MVP was batting .099 when he accepted an assignment to the minors on May 1.

All of Seattle’s offense came early. Meyers made a terrific sliding catch to rob Cal Raleigh of extra bases but it still resulted in a sacrifice fly. Ty France and Mitch Haniger followed with two-out RBI singles as Valdez faced eight batters in the first inning. He needed 43 pitches to get through the first two innings, but Seattle was unable to add on.

“We had all kinds of traffic and we had some good at-bats when we did have traffic out there. Unfortunately, sometimes the ball doesn't land on the grass like you want it to," Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

Valdez (3-3) allowed just two baserunners over his final four innings on the mound and was able to get through six. He permitted six hits, struck out four and walked three.

“I thought it took him a little bit of time for his sinker to be down and to execute. He just wasn't executing his pitches like he wanted to," Houston manager Joe Espada said. "Then after that he settled in and he threw a heck of a game.”

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Hunter Brown (1-5, 7.06 ERA) allowed just two hits and two runs over six innings in his last start but took his fifth loss.

Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.31) lost his last time out, giving up two runs over five innings against the Yankees.

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