Is he the Key

Is Russell Westbrook the key to the Rockets' success?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images


In the last four games, Russell Westbrook has been averaging 31.5 points per game. Even in the Rockets tough four game losing streak, despite not playing against the Memphis Grizzles, he has been the bright spot for the Rockets.

Honestly, the Rockets need Westbrook because of the energy he brings to the team. He always keeps the offense flowing and teammates active. Westbrook can give his team a sense of urgency when he is hot. He is a huge confidence builder to the team because of the positivity Westbrook brings. Westbrook is never hard himself because he does not want his emotions to get in front of his play. Being able to watch Westbrook motivate his teammates is amazing. Allowing himself not to get frustrated, unmotivated, or rude towards his teammates, caused the Rockets to get a must needed win against the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night.

"Obliviously that helps winning, but um through it all you got to stay positive. I know sometimes it's difficult. When your losing, in a drought, you're not shooting well, you're not playing well, but greater days are coming. I believe that; I truly believe that. I stay positive always; it's pushing us in the right direction." Westbrook told the press.

Westbrook loves keeping his teammates involved to keep the defense guessing.

"He is so versatile; he gets everybody involved. When he is attacking the rim, everybody is on alert. Guys get open shots." Harden told the press.

Westbrook field goal percentage is starting to improve now. Over the last four games he has been shooting 56.3% from the field. He is starting to let the game come to him now. Westbrook has become more aggressive in an efficient manner by attacking the rim more. Instead of Westbrook jacking up random three-point shots, he has taken minimum attempts. He is figuring out his strengths which is playing below the arc. Westbrook is much more dangerous when he is attacking or on a fast break.

Westbrook is starting to look more unstoppable than Harden right now. He has been holding the offense above float because of Hardens bad play. Hopefully, Westbrook keeps this up and continues to elevate the play of his teammates. This could continue the success after Wednesday night's win.

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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