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Texans vs Colts: The good, bad and ugly

Jadeveon Clowney emerged from the shadows. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Texans ended their losing streak by escaping the clutches of long-time division pain in the ass Colts 37-34. The offense looked good, but the defense looked like a flickering light, only showing brief intermittent flashes. Let’s take a look at things from my point of view:

The Good

-Jadeveon Clowney had one of those peakaboo games in which he flashes that all-world potential. He had a fumble recovery for touchdown and two sacks, including one in overtime in which he made Colts’ top pick Quenton Nelson look foolish. Not to mention plays in which he shot the gaps to stop a couple runs and force an incomplete.

-Bill O’Brien reverted back to last year’s play calling that sprung Deshaun Watson into stardom. The debut of Keke Coutee (13 touches for 107 yards) gave O’Brien another weapon to play with. He found creative ways to get the rookie the ball, as well as take advantage of Watson’s playmaking ability.

- Colts coach Frank Reich “O’Brien-ed” it by going for it on fourth down from their 43 yard line. The pass fell incomplete and the Texans took advantage. With no timeouts and only 24 seconds left, Watson hit DeAndre Hopkins for a 24-yard gain that set up a Ka’imi Fairbairn's 37 yard game-winning field goal. Good thing the biggest boneheaded move came from the opposing coach this time.

The Bad

-The run game has been a staple this year. Today however, it regressed. They averaged a measly 3.2 yards per rush. Watson was the only ball carrier that averaged more than four yards a carry.

-Tyrann Mathieu has been good for the defense, for the most part. Today he was flagged for a hold on a play that would’ve resulted in a punt and was beaten for a touchdown on a wheel route by a backup running back. Not calling him Honey Badger until he improves.

- Colts quarterback Andrew Luck torched the Texans’ secondary to the tune of 464 yards and four touchdowns. Despite J.J. Watt and Clowney’s best efforts, the secondary continues to haunt the defense.

The Ugly

-Jonathan Joseph was beaten badly in press coverage by T.Y. Hilton for a 48-yard gain. This explains why he gives so much cushion: HE CAN’T RUN! At his advanced age, he’s better as a locker room leader for the young guys.

-Kendal Lamm started at right tackle in place of Julien Davenport. He only got called for two penalties today. This explains how bad the offensive line is. Watson has to create time to throw. If not, he gets killed.

-The defense went from brick wall to wet tissue went it counted most. Up 28-17 in the fourth quarter, they proceeded to give up 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. The back breaker was the game-tying score and two-point conversion with under a minute left. Also, had O’Brien not wasted that last timeout, it could’ve been used to kick game-winning field goal.

The Texans almost went full Texans and gave the game up in fourth quarter/overtime. The defense is like I described earlier. They’re that one light in your attic that never stays on all the time. Instead, it’ll shine bright as the sun when on, and make the room as black as midnight in the Arctic when off. Good thing O’Brien decided to remember what Watson is capable of today. If this offense can continue to put up points and the defense becomes average, they might be able to salvage this season. I doubt it, but would love to be proven wrong.

 

 

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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