WEEK IN REVIEW

Rockets keep rolling along with three more wins

Eric Gordon continues to fill in well for the injured Chris Paul. NBA photos

Last week I had an epiphany. I was at the bar eating lunch and watching the Texans attempt to emulate a football team. I was discussing just how wretched the game was with my buddy, when it hit me:

I don't have to watch this. I should stop watching this.

And we did. I finished lunch and we immediately closed out toward the beginning of the third quarter.

Weekend 1 of no NFL has been nice. Freeing, even. Now that I no longer feel obligated to watch nine hours of football, I've been able to do other things like, oh I don't know, write about the Rockets.

And that's a way better topic because the Rockets are absolutely crushing teams right now. They have one of the best records in the league and James Harden looks like the early frontrunner for a player of the month award.

Add their success to my lingering World Series buzz and the impressive playoff run the Dynamo are stringing together, and it's easy to understand why it feels good to be a sports fan in Houston right now.

That is, unless you only watch the Texans. If that describes you, well, stay strong I guess. I'll be sure to keep you updated on my awesome Texans free Sundays from here on out.

Game Twelve: Rockets vs Cleveland Cavaliers (W, 117-113)

Thursday’s matchup between two of the biggest stars in the league certainly lived up to its nationally televised billing. Any team with LeBron James on it is going to be tough to put away, and this meeting was proof. The Rockets jumped out to an 11 point lead after James took a seat, and ballooned up to 15 behind a few consecutive deep Eric Gordon 3 pointers. James immediately returned, and by the end of the half the Cavs had tied the game behind the efforts of James himself and a surprising performance from journeyman Jeff Green. The Rockets received key contributions to close out the game from Clint Capela (19 points, 13 rebounds) and P.J. Tucker. Harden finished with a triple-double (35 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists) and Gordon chipped in 20 point as well.

Game Thirteen: Rockets vs Memphis Grizzlies (W, 111-96)

Looking to avenge their 0-2 start vs the Grizzlies, the Rockets jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead and never trailed Saturday night. It was all Rockets, who dominated both sides of the ball on the way to tallying 14 steals on defense while finally crossing the 100-point mark against a team that has posed an early season challenge for them. Harden posted his fouthth 30-point game (38 points) in his last five outings, and Gordon went 6-11 from beyond the arc on the way to a 26 point outing.

Game Fourteen: Rockets at Indianapolis Pacers (W, 118-95)

Sunday evening the Rockets traveled up to Indianapolis and steamrolled the Pacers for their sixth straight win. Ignited by Harden’s career high nine assists in the first quarter, the Rockets never trailed for the second game in a row. Harden would finish with 26 points and 15 assists. Gordon chipped in 21 points and Clint Capela continued his great start to the season by adding 20 points and 17 rebounds.

Takeaways:

  • Clint Capela is operating on a completely different level this season. He’s fourth in the league in rebounds, third in blocks, and first in field goal percentage. He’s also firing 70% from the charity stripe, up from 50% last season.

  • Harden is currently leading the league in points, assists, and free throw attempts. Granted it’s way too early to speculate, but at the moment Harden looks like he’s going to be staging another strong campaign for league MVP.

  • They’re playing angry. Following the Rockets’ last loss, they’ve blown out almost every team during their current six game win streak by an average point differential of 17.6 points per game.

Rockets Player of the Week (not named James Harden):

Eric Gordon. He’s certainly picking up the slack in Chris Paul’s absence and has posted four straight 20-point games, all while shooting 43% from beyond the arc.

Looking Ahead:

This week the Rockets will get their first looks at Toronto and Phoenix this season before taking on, you guessed it, Memphis yet again. Toronto has looked good to start the season, so this could be a good test at home for the Rockets. Phoenix is terrible, so a win should be expected there. Finally, on Saturday the Rockets will look to even the season series with the Grizzlies, who lead it 2-1. I expect no more than one loss this upcoming week.

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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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