INSIDE THE ROCKETS

Ryan Anderson: Return to the Rockets is "full circle"

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Ryan Anderson approached his media scrum after training camp practice on Saturday as if he was meeting an old group of friends. "It's good to see you guys again," Anderson said, with smiles all around. "It feels like I never left."

Anderson is, of course, referencing his two-year tenure with the Houston Rockets that ended last summer when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. Anderson found tremendous success with the Rockets, providing quality floor spacing that helped form the identity of the team that would eventually go toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors and almost win. After a year of bouncing from team to team, seemingly in NBA purgatory, Anderson landed back with the Rockets this summer. To say he relished the opportunity to return to his old stomping ground is an understatement.

"It's an amazing feeling," Anderson said. "It's an easy adjustment back with this group. The system is obviously the same. Just playing the other day for the first time again with these guys, it's like there's no adjustment period."

While the Rockets haven't formally promised him a roster spot, Anderson was offered a minimum deal with $250,000 being guaranteed money, significantly more than players like Anthony Bennet, Michael Frazier, and Ben McLemore. Anderson also has familiarity with a lot of the players, Mike D'Antoni's system, and the way Houston wants to play so it gives him a real leg up on some of the newcomers. The way things currently stand, there's a strong chance he won't have to sell the condo he bought (and kept) in Houston several years ago.

"This team has, just like when I was here a few years ago, high hopes to win a championship," Anderson said. "The less time I take to get adjusted to the system in the right way, the better. I'm ready to help the team the best I can."

Although, Anderson isn't just satisfied with grabbing a roster spot. After a brutal season in which he only logged 25 games and 322 minutes, he wants to prove to the NBA that he can still contribute to a contender. After being much maligned for his contract and traded to clean up Houston's financial situation last season, Anderson struggled to find consistent roles with both the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat. A tough journey he describes as "humbling."

"Obviously I would like to bounce back from last year," said Anderson. "It feels good to be back with a group that has an identity. I know what that identity is and what the main goal is. I feel really good to be back. That's just how life is sometimes. It's full circle."

Anderson averaged 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds on 39.6% three-point shooting when he played for Houston. Before signing Anderson, the Rockets had a noticeable hole at backup power forward plus a need for size and floor spacing. Houston isn't a team known to making novelty signings. Anderson will have an opportunity to earn real minutes and play a role if he proves himself viable in training camp.

"My journey has been one of many mental struggles," Anderson said. "Last year was a tough challenge for me. Something that I've never experienced before. It was difficult. I feel very fortunate to be very to be where I'm at right now. To have a chance to play for a great team, to produce, and to do what I can do. This team knows me very well and knows what I'm capable of. I feel very fortunate to be back here."

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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