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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The Houston Texans seem to be focused on repairing their image. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

"It's a new day, yes it is!" That's how the theme song from one of my all time favorite wrestling tag teams/groups starts. One of my favorite lines says "Can't change the past/Gotta let it unfold." If this doesn't apply to the 2022 Houston Texans, I don't know what does.

Over the last few years, the Texans have been a laughingstock. From a comedy of errors under Bill O'Brien, to Cal McNair's reputation as Tommy Boy, Jack Easterby was once thought to be some sort of Boogeyman, to the fans finally having had enough and fighting back with their wallets. Things haven't been smooth sailing on Kirby Drive. It started to look like a never-ending rainy day for a while. Then it happened. Nick Caserio came in riding his white horse and the weather started clearing up.

Initially, some were still skeptical, yours truly included. We had every right to feel that way. He was yet another in a line from New England. "Patriots South" was beginning to look like a real thing, even though Cal denied it. Before he could get settled, his franchise quarterback wanted out and was also found out to be an alleged pervert. That's when Caserio started to push all the right buttons.

Some people thrive under pressure. Some crumble worse than a dry ass Popeye's biscuit. Caserio is one of the ones that has managed to make coals into diamonds. Armed with a bad cap situation, devoid of draft picks in his first draft, a talented QB who wants out, and an owner trying his best to do the right things, he navigated it all masterfully so far. He traded Watson for a nice haul and used those picks in this past draft to address some concerns. Knowing the QB talent was better in the upcoming draft, he's giving Davis Mills an opportunity to show what he's got. Their collective appearance on The Pat McAfee Show recently was to show the national media something we here in Houston see every day: there are new faces of this franchise, and it's headed in the right direction.

While Mills still has to prove he can be the franchise QB, Caserio has done a good job of putting talent around him to place him in a position to succeed. If Mills is a hit, the team can use the draft capital to improve other areas of the team, and Caserio has another feather in his cap. If Mill isn't "the guy", the team will draft one of the top prospects and move on. Third round QBs that don't work out aren't seen as failures per se because expectations aren't as high. However, I believe Mills' floor is a career backup and he still holds value even if he isn't seen as a starter. Besides, who wouldn't want a guy who went to Stanford in the QB room?

Easterby has faded into the background after being thrust into the spotlight. He seems to have been thrown in the ring with a grizzly bear and come out unscathed. Lots of us were wrong about him. I now believe he was forced into a situation he wasn't prepared for, made the best he could out of it, and is now settling back into the role he originally sought out, which is the owner's right-hand man and a team/player development type of guy.

The person who deserves just as much, if not more, credit than Caserio is Cal. He went from Tommy Boy to Boss Hog in the matter of a year or so. The story of him playing video games sitting on the floor of his office fed into the perception of him being a doofus. Now, he's literally kissing babies, handing out shorts, and grilling for the fans. He's been seen at the forefront of food/water drives, as well as being very visible and accessible to fans at training camp.

These are the new faces of this franchise moving forward. Look for newer players to take some of their places when their play starts to equal wins for this team. "Get us back on the right road/On the right track/On the right flow (That’s right)/Live in the future that we all know."

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