FUEL TO THE FIRE

Let's examine the X-factors for the Houston Rockets

The Rockets need more than just James Harden and Russell Westbrook to win a championship. It takes a complete team to win so having important X-factors plays a huge part. After watching two of the Rockets' scrimmages, Ben McLemore, Jeff Green, and Danuel House looked impressive.

On Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, McLemore erupted in the fourth quarter with 11 points. McLemore was able to go 6/7 from behind the arc with 26 points. He has been able to shoot almost 40% from three and is averaging 9.8 points per game. McLemore has been useful for the Rockets this season because of his streaky shooting. Westbrook and Harden have been huge supporters of McLemore this season.

"Being able to play alongside those guys is a blessing," McLemore said last Tuesday. "They took me underneath [their] wing as a little brother."

Jeff Green is also important to the Rockets because of is length, shooting, and ability to spread the floor. Green is also a good defender meaning he can guard any position on the court at 6′8″. He was signed to the Rockets February 18, 2020, on a 10-day contract. After Green's performance against the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Grizzlies, Daryl Morey decided to sign him for the rest of the season. Green is averaging 10.4 points per game, shooting 41.2% from three, and his FG percentage is 62.1%. He became useful to Harden because of the pick and roll. That is why Green's FG percentage is high.

Sunday against the Grizzlies, Green scored 15 points.

"I knew Green was more than capable of helping us," said Harden on Sunday. "That was one of the reasons we reached out. He's able to handle the basketball, he's able to knock down shots, he's pretty solid on defense, so he fits into what we're doing."

Another impressive X-factor on the court is Danuel House. House is the streakiest shooter on the court. He is averaging 10.2 points per game but is shooting 36.3% from three. House is having an inconsistent year, shooting wise. Last season, House was shooting 41.6% from three. Probably the reason why Eric Gordon was inserted in the starting lineup for the bubble restart.

Even though House is coming off the bench now, he still brings a lot of support. Against the Toronto Raptors Friday night, House had 18 points off the bench. He shot 3 of 6 from three and 7 of 11 from the field. House was able to find more open looks with the second unit on the court. Which makes it much easier for him to gain his confidence. House is looking to finish the season strong inside the bubble.

Austin Rivers will return after his 10-day quarantine is up. He is also important to the Rockets because of his NBA tenure and playoff experience. After backing up Chris Paul on the Los Angeles Clippers and the Rockets, Rivers has experience coming of the bench. Rivers can lead the second unit with Harden or Westbrook on the court. Even though Rivers averages 8.5 points per game, he is still impactful by making big shots.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans remain winless as the team comes up short against the Bears in Chicago. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Davis Mills made two costly mistakes with interceptions. The first one took points off the board and the second allowed the Bears to kick a game-winning field goal. These were the first two of the season and they highlight the need for near perfection from the offense.

2. Davis Mills claimed he made the correct read on the second interception. He said the tip is the reason the Bears intercepted it. I disagree. It looks like Roquan Smith read it like a book and might have been there anyway.

3. The other interception from Davis Mills wasn’t a good read either. Mills made a quick decision and rifled the ball to Brandin Cooks but the defensive back basically had his whole body between Cooks and the ball. The Bears made a nice play to come down with the deflection.

4. Davis Mills is not to be trusted in moments where most quarterbacks can move the football. The Texans failed to get into field goal range at the end of both halves. Mills has consistently failed in those spots this season.

5. There were some curious calls from Pep Hamilton. The Texans don’t have much talent, but Hamilton has had some unique moments. There was a screen to Pharaoh Brown on third and long. The team called a screen on third and one. There was a telegraph on third and short in the red zone.

6. Why can’t this team get the wideouts more heavily involved? Rex Burkhead shouldn’t be getting the second greatest number of targets. Brandin Cooks shouldn’t leave a game where he has less than 10 targets. It would be worth scheming the ball to Cooks a few more times than he is currently getting the ball.

7. Kamu Grugier-Hill is not playing well right now. The veteran just bounced right off a Bears running back at one point. He is also a liability in coverage. Christian Harris is hopefully back after next week but it would be worth seeing if Garrett Wallow has anything more to his game than the veteran.

8. The rushing defense was assaulted again. This time by running wideouts and a backup running back. Lovie Smith needs to look at playing time and the depth chart to see if something can get corrected here. This can’t keep happening earlier and earlier in games each week.

9. Jerry Hughes has been one of the best players on this team through three games. The veteran has been consistent and flashed more than a few times. A nice addition by the team this offseason.

10. Jalen Pitre is so damn good. He’s already one of the best players on this team. He had two interceptions today to go along with a sack. He wasn’t fooled on play action and nailed Justin Fields for the sack. When it felt like the Bears were getting whatever they wanted, Pitre darted in for a tackle in the backfield. He’s been awesome.

11. There must be some evaluation from the Texans. The team might need to ask if everything they’ve put together at this point is the right direction. There is a sound argument the team should be 3-0. Instead, the team is winless, and closing in on hopelessness

Re

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome