ROCKETS BEAT THE KINGS

James Harden and John Wall come up big in Rockets win over Kings

Rockets beat the Kings, 122-119. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Although the Houston Rockets got off to a slow start in the beginning of the game, they began to catch fire inside the 2nd quarter. DeMarcus Cousins and Sterling Brown lifted the second unit. When DeMarcus aggressively set a screen for James Harden, he rolled to the corner, and made his first shot since the 2018-2019 season with the Golden State Warriors. Cousins finished with eight points before the 2nd half ended. The Rockets' bench finished with 22 points in the first half, which is a huge number for them.

After a strong start from Cousins, John Wall eventually followed by becoming a playmaker and scoring threat. Wall was able to split picks, take reasonable 3-point shots from the perimeter, and attack the rim when an opportunity presented itself. He was able to collect 14 points before the half ended.

James Harden, Christian Wood, and Eric Gordon were able to catch fire throughout the second half after a slow start. Harden was able to see the floor well, Gordon began to cut in and out of the defense, while also making contested 3-point shots. Christian Wood found ways to cut off screens and catch difficult lobs to be effective for the Rockets.

But what hurt the Rockets the most was turnovers, as the Sacramento Kings capitalized off 16 turnovers by scoring 18 points. When the Rockets finally started to settle down, Wall and Harden took charge by making tough shots and pushing tempo up the court. Harden and Wall found ways to disrupt the Kings' defense throughout the 4th quarter. Stephen Silas, the head coach for the Rockets, mentioned he enjoyed watching Harden and Wall's shot selection and aggressiveness inside the 4th quarter.

"It was great, they're both trying to figure out who has it, and who is coming off the ball some," as Silas mentioned in the press conference. "They are kind of figuring it out with my help. Both were good at scoring the basketball. It's a relationship that has to grow"

Wall finished with 22 points and 9 assists, while Harden finished with 33 points and 8 assists. Wall and Harden are still trying to figure each other out, so they're able to be successful throughout the season for the Rockets. Wood even mentioned he is fortunate to watch the effort of Harden and Wall together.

"It's remarkable. What he does on the floor, the way he operates, it's crazy. I couldn't really explain it to you. I don't really know what James Harden's ceiling is. Playing with him, he makes me look great," as Wood told the press. "I'm playing within two All-Star guards. Great to have to John back, looks like he is back to All-Star status."

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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