Critical takeaways from Rockets' 123-114 loss to Bucks

Rockets winning streak comes to an end. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

As of Friday night, the Houston Rockets seven-game winning streak is over, as they fought a hard battle against the previous NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks. The Rockets did have steady control throughout the game because of Alperen Sengun, Christian Wood (21 points and 47 percent from the field), Garrison Mathews, and Armoni Brooks' terrific effort on the court. But Giannis Antetokounmpo who is a two-time MVP dominated each quarter of basketball. He finished with 41 points, 17 rebounds, and 5.0 assists.

The Rockets shot the ball well Friday night, as they have within these eight games. While having Mathews and Brooks on the floor, the spacing for the Rockets becomes better. It allows more cutting and slipping towards the rim. Friday night, the Rockets finished with 41 percent shooting versus the Bucks. Mathews has a quick and easy release when shooting the basketball and elevation off his jump-shot too. He has become a reliable shooter for the Rockets. Within eight games, Mathews is shooting 46.4 percent from three while averaging 17.0 points per contest and has a 73.8 true shooting percentage.

Brooks and Mathews have catapulted the Rockets to fifth in the NBA in three-point shooting inside eight games. Seeing Brooks becoming more aggressive in his driving is impressive. It allows Brooks to not be stagnate on the court, which keeps the opposing team’s defenses off balance. Brooks has shown he can put the ball on the floor and score, as he did versus the Bucks. He shot 71 percent from the field with four made threes and 21 points. Brooks has already shown his catch-and-shoot skills and off-the-screen shooting, but putting the ball on the floor at a bigger sample will make him a more versatile offensive player.

Sengun had great battles against Bobby Portis and Antetokounmpo. He impressed Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton with his footwork inside the paint Friday night.

“He’s a good player,” Antetokounmpo said. “Takes his time; nothing can speed him up. He might be slow in the post, but he’s effective. He’s playing well. He’s playing a lot of minutes off the bench, gives energy to his teammates. He rebounds the ball well. He’s being aggressive, sets good screens. I think the sky’s the limit for him.”

Jae'Sean Tate was also impressed with Sengun. “When you talk about footwork, there’s not anybody that moves like he does… His ability to score around the rim and pass the ball is something you can’t teach,” Tate said. “He’s going to continue to get better and be a problem.”

Sengun is in the 60th percentile in post-ups per Synergy. Friday night, Sengun had 15 points and 5.0 rebounds and a plus 11 from the field against the defending champs. Sengun will become more lethal if he can stay out of foul trouble, as most rookie big men struggle with. His footwork, patience, and skill will accelerate his pace in the NBA.

My biggest note for Christian Wood: IS BECOME AGGRESSIVE IN ALL FOUR QUARTERS!

Wood is playing better basketball now, which is good. He is becoming a better finisher at the rim and over defenders. Wood’s rebounding is very impressive this season, as he is fourth in the NBA in defensive rebounding. He has increased his rebound total towards 11.4 per game, which puts him at 7th in the NBA. Hopefully, Wood got a great look at Antetokounmpo, as he scored 41 points easily. The Rockets are considering offers for Wood on the trade market too.

Although the streak is over, Silas mentioned how he was pleased with the Rockets' effort versus the Bucks.

“My message is they should be so proud of what [we've] done,” Silas said. “They should be proud that we went toe to toe with the champs and it took Giannis going for 41 to beat us.”

Up next: The Rockets face the Grizzlies on Saturday night.

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Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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