WESTBROOK WILL MISS GAME 5

Let's discuss how Russell Westbrook could impact the Thunder series

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

After the Rockets lost two tough games back-to-back, they were exposed late in 3rd and 4th quarters as well. As the Rockets were triumphant in game 1 and 2, they have been outscored 119-98 in the second half. The Rockets need Russell Westbrook so they can close games out. The Oklahoma City Thunder now have life.

The Rockets are in trouble because of the shorter bench. Ben McLemore's defense has been frantic inside of defensive schemes and man-to-man coverage. That has caused his minutes to decrease for Mike D'Antoni. Austin Rivers has not scored since game 3, and that was only four points. The Rockets only rely on their 3-point shooting instead of points inside the paint. Luckily for the Rockets, Westbrook gets most of points inside the paint. Westbrook averages 60.8 percent inside the restricted area and 37.2 percent in the paint (Non-RA).

The Rockets do miss Westbrook's presence to create and apply consent pressure going to the basket. This allows the Rockets' shooters to get open for shooting attempts. If Westbrook does comeback soon, this can relieve the pressure on James Harden offensively, who has been guarded by Lu Dort, rookie from Arizona State. Harden has struggled possession wise against Dort by only shooting 23.5 percent against him.

Defense has been a problem for the Rockets as well, despite the Rockets being 4th in the Western Conference in team general defense. Dennis Schroeder has been averaging 30 points per game off the bench for the Thunder in the last two games. Chris Paul has awakened by averaging 26 points per game in the last two games as well. Those two have been the consistent force for the Thunder getting back in this series. Bringing Westbrook back will help the Rockets and allow Harden to not get in foul trouble.

"We needed better individual defensive efforts. They really had it going and they tried to spread us out and go 1-on-1. We scored enough and they continued to keep scoring," Eric Gordon on the Rockets' defense after their game 4 loss on Monday. "That's what it's going to come down to. Our defense needs to be better than today."

When Paul and Westbrook matchup on defense, Westbrook only allows Paul to shoot 25 percent against him. That could be a huge difference in this series. Westbrook was upgraded to questionable for game 5 on Wednesday.

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The losing streak continues

Mariners get walk-off win over short-staffed Astros

Alex De Goti had an impressive debut. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brutal homestand capped off by losing five players to the IL for health and safety protocols, the once 5-1 Astros brought their now 6-6 record to T-Mobile park in Seattle to try and right the ship. They'd have to do it with new and young players in the lineup using the "next man up" mentality to get some wins against the first-place Mariners.

Though the young bats would work themselves into a lead most of the night, Houston's bullpen wouldn't be able to hold the Mariners down, with Seattle ultimately walking things off in the ninth.

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 6-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Anthony Misiewicz (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (0-1)

After a quiet start, Houston gets three in the fifth

After cruising through the Astros through the first four innings, allowing only a walk over that span, Houston was able to put up a big inning against Yusei Kikuchi in the top of the fifth. Carlos Correa notched the first hit of the night, followed by a walk by Taylor Jones to put two on base.



That brought Alex De Goti, making his major-league debut, to the plate and, in his second career at-bat, would get his first hit and RBI, bringing in Correa from second on a single. A second run would come on the same play on a throwing error, then Chaz McCormick made it a three-run inning with an RBI-double, putting Houston out front 3-0.

Urquidy comes an out shy of a quality start

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was doing well through five innings. On track for a much-needed quality start, the Mariners would tag him in the bottom of the sixth, getting three-straight hits to bring in two runs to lead off the frame and leaving a runner on second base with no outs.

Urquidy would rebound to get the next two batters on strikeouts, but at 90 pitches and with a left-handed hitter up next, Dusty Baker would bring in lefty Brooks Raley to try and get out of the inning with the one-run lead intact. Raley would do his job, putting Uruidy's line final: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 90 P.

Teams trade two-run seventh innings

The young bats for Houston struck again in the top of the seventh, with Jones and De Goti leading it off with back-to-back singles before Jason Castro would load the bases with a walk. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz would push the lead back to three with a two-RBI single, making it 5-2.

With Raley out after facing his one batter, next out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu to help maintain Houston's lead. Instead, he would give up two runs on two hits and a walk while getting just two outs before Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who would get the last out of the seventh with Houston hanging on to a one-run lead at 5-4.

Mariners get the walk-off win

Taylor remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after getting an out, would allow a game-tying solo home run to Evan White before injuring himself trying to field an infield single. Ryne Stanek entered and finished off the eighth, sending the tie game to the ninth.

After Houston came up empty in the top half, Stanek remained in the game in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to force extras. Back-to-back walks ended Stanek's night, with the Astros hoping Ryan Pressly could bail them out. He couldn't, though, giving up the walk-off hit as the Mariners would take the opener, 6-5.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set will start an hour earlier on Saturday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM Central. Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will try to rebound from a poor start his last time out for the Astros, while the Mariners will hand the ball to Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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