ROCKETS REACTION

The injury bug, PJ Tucker's absence, and Kevin Porter Jr's impressive debut

In the words of Victor Oladipo, "The whole year has been a whirlwind", which is correct. The Houston Rockets have suffered from James Harden's departure, injuries, and the lack of chemistry. Coach Silas mentioned that the season has suffered because of those components. It was said that PJ Tucker is frustrated with not playing with another competitor. Tucker ended up leaving Sacramento mid-game because of the situation.

"We're going to try to figure out something that works for him and works for us as far as him not being on the team anymore. I was under the assumption that he was going to play tonight, and he didn't play. That was disappointing," Coach Silas said. "He decided that he was just not really with it, and we decided that that's a good idea. Let's move on."

Speaking of injuries, Eric Gordon scored 17 points in the first half but then hurt his groin. Gordon did not return. Before the game started, it was announced John Wall got dinged up after bumping knees with another player during Wednesday's practice. One positive note, Christian Wood has become healthier and participated in Wednesday's practice. He still didn't play against the Sacramento Kings for precautionary reasons. It became a scary sight when Kevin Porter Jr. almost injured his knee during the game. Hopefully, the Rockets can avoid the injury bug for the rest of the season, as they only have eight players to deploy versus the Utah Jazz Friday night.

Kevin Porter Jr. had a nice debut

Porter had an impressive night because of his playmaking ability. He was able to create a double-double for himself. Kevin finished Thursday night's game with 13 points and 10 assists, including three steals and one block. He shot 45 percent from the field versus the Kings. Porter showed active hands in the passing lanes, which made him dangerous in transition. He was able to find his teammates on fast breaks, and showed the ability to create for himself.

Porter is slowly getting comfortable inside the Rockets' offense. He is showing aggression and discipline when running the offensive sets for the Rockets, which is impressive. That allows Porter to find his teammates for open opportunities, which allows the game to become easier for him. Porter's game will continue to get better because of the support system on the Rockets' coaching staff.

Hopefully, the Rockets can get healthy and lineup some trades before the deadline. That should be their focus moving forward.

Next up: The Rockets head to Utah to play the Jazz on Friday night.

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1. Davis Mills had an up-and-down day under center Friday. One play saw Mills drop back and try to get rid of the ball as Jonathan Greenard was rushing him only to have Greenard leap up and intercept Mills for what would have been an interception returned for a score.

2. A few plays later Davis Mills showcased his short memory. Mills surveyed the field, looked off the safety, and pitched a strike to Brevin Jordan over the middle, wide open, for a touchdown.

3. Davis Mills doesn’t stack bad plays. It is rare to see multiple bad plays happen in a row and Mills be the cause, or a cause, of the play not working. When he misses something, he usually makes up for it the next play.

4. It was a makeshift offensive line on Friday. Max Scharping played a lot at left guard. Charlie Heck saw some snaps at left tackle while Laremy Tunsil took a breather. Veteran lineman Cedric Ogbuehi played some at right tackle. There was plenty of work emphasized on the rushing attack Friday. The offensive line was fine, nothing special. I would say slight edge to the defense overall.

5. Rookie Kenyon Green didn’t practice. Right tackle Tytus Howard didn’t practice either. Pro Football Network is reporting Tytus Howard is out with a positive Covid test. Kenyon Green was banged up last practice, but Lovie Smith expects both back in the coming days.

6.The offensive line had its hands full with the defensive line today. Jonathan Greenard made the above-mentioned play of the practice with an interception. It felt constantly like there was some level of success from the defensive line. Not to say they dominated, but I would think the defense is happy with their day.

7. Maliek Collins has been a nice player in camp. He looks a bit quicker than last year. Collins downplayed how many “close” plays he had last year citing that everyone knows the saying “close but no cigar.” I asked him if he expected a lot of cigars this year. He chuckled and said yes. Teammate Roy Lopez gushed about what he believes Collins can be for this team and called his teammate one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

8. I almost wonder if quiet Derek Stingley days are good days. Stingley wasn’t involved in a lot of plays, but I know Davis Mills saw him on Friday. Mills dropped back on one play and made a read to his left seeing Chris Moore. Stingley darted from coverage towards Moore causing Mills to move off Moore and head to Nico Collins for a score. Yes, the defense allowed a touchdown, but Stingley did his job.

9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre is a “starting” safety for the team according to Lovie Smith. Pitre had an interception, depending on who you ask, in practice. It is clear the Texans trust him and have put a lot on his plate. I would expect to see a lot of the rookie safety, good or bad, this season.



10. Lovie Smith praised the team’s depth at linebacker earlier in camp. I scoffed a little at the notion, but there seems to be a new linebacker making a play each day. Christian Kirksey had a nice stop in the run game today. Kevin Pierre-Louis, who played very little last year, has flashed. There’s some depth here, despite my skepticism.

11. Ka'imi Fairbairn doesn’t have a challenger in camp this year. I believed this offseason should have seen at the very least someone to challenge the kicker heading into his seventh year in the league. He’s been solid in camp so far, but there have been some misses. It is tough to judge distance, but the team clearly has faith in him with no challenger in sight.

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