The good and bad about the Rockets

How can the Rockets maneuver through the wild wild West?


Well the beginning of the season has been a struggle, but there cannot be any excuses if the Rockets want to survive this season. The Western Conference has officially taken steroids for this season.

The first problem is the Rocket's defense.

If the Rockets want to survive this season, the defense must improve. It has way too many breakdowns for them to be successful. The Rockets rank 30th in points allowed in a game. This stat is very shocking because the addition of Russell Westbrook. Their pick 'n' roll and transition defense has been terrible too. Another bad situation that keeps occurring is the misuse of PJ Tucker. He is repeatedly guarding players that are bigger than him. Monday night, Tucker played the center position for defensive purposes against the Memphis Grizzlies. D'Antoni's defensive schemes must be better before they play bigger opponents like the Los Angeles Lakers. He does lack a defensive background in his coaching career. Amar'e Stoudemire, former NBA vet, who plays in Israel now, said on a the Knuckle Head podcast that D' Antoni never went over defense in practice when he played for him in Phoenix. The Rockets gave up 46 points in the first quarter against the Miami Heat Sunday night.

Last season, the Rockets brought back Coach Jeff Bzdelik to fix the defensive problems they had. Sadly, his contract ended in May of this year. Hopefully this coaching staff can figure things out before they play LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, or Luka Doncic. Even Devin Booker and the Suns are looking pretty impressive in the West. The Rockets have struggled with mediocre teams this season so far. Tracy McGrady, ESPN NBA analyst, mentioned on the NBA Jump that the Rockets defense needs to be fixed soon.



Here is the bright side of the situation, James Harden.

Ever since James Harden's slow start, he has been on fire for the last four games. Harden is not surprising anyone by the leading the league in scoring. Right now he is averaging 36.6 per game and heading to free throw line frequently. He is able to get to the free throw line 16 times per game as well. Harden is the reason why the Rockets were able to skate by the Wizards and Grizzlies. Even though Harden is only shooting 38% from the field, he is still able to manage games correctly. Harden has also done better by creating opportunities for his teammates when he attempts to go to the paint. Another thing Harden has gotten better at is not holding the ball to the final digit of the shot clock. The ball is leaving his hands much faster this season. Harden has been extremely aggressive ever since he mentioned playing soft in the first game of the season. As basketball fans see, Harden is improving from last season. Hopefully Harden sustains this play.



Even though things seem ugly right now, the Rockets will figure things out.

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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