It is time for a change!

If the season is over, what can the Rockets do differently for next year?

As we know, the NBA season is on a pause since March 13th because of the coronavirus. The Rockets were 40-24 on inconsistent season with a newly acquired Russell Westbrook. The Rockets were not able to find a consistent winning streak this season. Who should the Rockets bring back or look for in free agency?

The Rocket's season started shaky because of the relationship between James Harden and Westbrook on the court. Westbrook was still trying find his true role in Coach Mike D' Antoni system, Harden had a cold streak throughout the month of January, and the Rockets tried a new system towards mid-season. Another thing the Rockets lack is consistency! They have not been consistent since the 2017-2018 season. Does D'Antoni lack that strong presence of a strict coach? Nice guy, but the Rockets need an alpha male coach to get the team's attention.

How the Rockets can overcome those things is establishing a true identity. Knowing the teams' greatest strengths and weaknesses. Also recognizing the bright spots from last season as well. The fact that Westbrook and Harden's chemistry improved towards the end of the season, was a great thing for this team. Plus, the Rockets get more time to perfect the small ball equation with Robert Covington. As we saw the Rockets go on certain win streaks throughout the season with the small ball equation. For the most part, it works, just needs more perfection!

Ever since Daryl Morey traded Clint Capela for Covington, it clears up more cap space. Meaning more space for another wing player in the future. Since 2020 free agency offers Gordon Hayward, DeMar DeRozan, and Danilo Gallinari, players that can fit in the Rockets offense, it would not hurt to see the Rockets throw cash at those guys. Honestly, Hayward and Gallinari would fit better than DeRozan. Probably much cheaper than DeRozan because he will be looking for a max contract. Plus, DeRozan would slow the offense down because of his inability to shoot threes. Gallinari and Hayward can stretch the floor with their shooting. Hayward is unselfish to let Harden and Westbrook run point because of his great cutting skills towards the basket. Gallinari is a great spot up shooter and can score all over the court. Now the Rockets cannot afford both but can make one a contingency plan. Also keeping Jeff Green is not a bad idea as well. The Rockets could keep him for cheap so they can have more of a veteran presence on the team.

The Rockets must do something different if they want to compete for a championship. The west will continue to get harder with Klay Thompson coming back to Golden State.

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After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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