THE PALLILOG

Texans path to securing top pick in draft is becoming clear

The Texans need to keep losing and get some help from Detroit. Composite image by Jack Brame.

What a classic on tap Sunday in Jacksonville. If the tap is pouring bilge water. It's the 2-11 Texans at the 2-11 Jaguars in a matchup that as a start to finish proposition shouldn't even keep the attention of family and close friends. There is basically nothing interesting about the Texans, though Cameron Johnston continues to be the leading Pro Bowl vote getter among AFC punters! We are approaching the best part of this Texans' season: merciful conclusion. Not exactly a silver lining but at least here almost all of us knew the Texans had no chance to achieve even mediocrity this year. What is the prevailing sentiment in Jacksonville? Only the delusional had visions of Jags' glory in 2021, but at least there was optimism and curiosity around the hire of Head Coach Urban Meyer and the drafting of presumed franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Well, Lawrence is still there...

Jaguars owner Shad Khan firing Meyer in the early hours of Thursday morning and saying he'd have no further comment and face no questions until after the regular season is just one more page in an ownership book full of embarrassment. Meyer was his own undoing through a blend of megalomaniacal, stupid, and mere in over his head behavior. The Jaguars have clinched their 10th double digit defeats season in the last 11, nine of the ten have had at least 11 Ls. In what has to be considered a bizarre anomaly the 2017 Jaguars went 10-6, reached the AFC Championship Game, and led at New England by 10 points in the fourth quarter before the Patriots rallied to win. Thiiiiiis close to a Super Bowl that season, straight garbage for the Jags the six prior and now four since.

Yet, Lawrence's presence (for those who believe in him) makes Jacksonville an attractive job beyond the fact it's one of only 32 head coaching gigs. He has little quality around him but Lawrence's rookie campaign has been lousy. He is 28th in QBR (ESPN's better than the NFL's standard quarterback rating) among this season's 32 primary starting signal callers. The four worse are Jared Goff, Davis Mills, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson. All rookies except for Goff. Growing pains.

While there is no quarterback considered worthy of selection in the top few picks of this coming spring's NFL Draft, the Texans are still better off having as high a pick as possible. If the Texans can lose Sunday and drop the ensuing three games (definitely doable!) all they need is for Goff and the Detroit Lions to stumble into one more victory and the Texans get the first pick. The first pick in every round.

Rockets falling back to Earth

The Rockets' back-to-back not close losses to the Cavaliers and Knicks have their record at 9-20. They missed out on two chances to improve their winning percentage above .333 for the first time since they were 1-1. Saturday night they play at even worse Detroit. The Pistons have lost 13 straight and are 4-23. The Rockets need to be careful to not mix in too many victories. They currently have only the fifth worst record in the NBA. Keep that up and they'll be draft lottery longshots to wind up with a top three pick in a draft which at this point has three players considered the top tier of prospects. They are all freshmen: 6'10" Duke forward Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga seven foot 194 pounder Chet Holmgren, and the rising stock of the bunch 6'10" Auburn forward Jabari Smith.

Good news for the Aggies and Longhorns

If Jimbo Fisher never gets Texas A&M to the College Football Playoff (while it's four teams, the semifinals once the field inevitably expands) he will not have been worth his contract. To be determined how it plays out on the field, but Jimbo is recruiting at the necessary level as the Aggies won the mythical National Signing Day championship this week. Steve Sarkisian's UT class came in number five. Maybe the Longhorns can make a bowl next season!

Buzzer Beaters

1. The bloated college football bowl season is underway Friday with the Bahamas Bowl and the Cure Bowl. Toledo and Middle Tennessee State play on Nassau with Coastal Carolina and Northern Illinois meeting in Orlando. Bet you didn't know the Cure Bowl is in Orlando! Can you name any player to ever play for any of the four schools? It's not a quiz.

2. UH did not get jobbed with the no goaltending at the end of the Alabama game last Saturday. It may have been goaltending (though probably wasn't). It absolutely was not clearly goaltending. Be honest vehemently disagreeing Cougar fan. If the roles were reversed you'd be saying "Inconclusive! No way you can call goaltending!" The nature of fandom. Nonetheless, that was a tremendous college basketball game.

3. Best Will Ferrell movies: Bronze-Old School Silver-Anchorman Gold-Elf

Happy Holidays!

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ROCKETS FALL TO WARRIORS

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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