ROCKET LAUNCH

The Beard is back!

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

At 8:38 pm on Tuesday, it was confirmed that Harden had made it to Orlando, Florida. After sitting a couple of days out because of the protocol, Harden was able practice on Thursday.

Harden leads the league in scoring by averaging 34.4 points per game. The NBA's bubble has Harden ranked number four on Orlando's campus. Harden coming back to practice has caused the intensity to go up. The Rockets love Harden's leadership and communication.

"It changes everything. He's our captain. He runs the ship. Intensity goes up. Level of play goes up," P.J. Tucker said. "He raises the stakes every time he steps on the floor. That's what we love about him. That's what we love about him. Win, lose, draw, we know what we're going to get from 13."

Everything about Harden looked the same in practice according to Rockets' Ben McLemore. Harden loved giving his teammates a hard time in practice by challenging and trash talking them.

"The world knows, no matter what's going on, James Harden loves to hoop," as Harden told the media. "In practice, I was doing a lot of trash talking, which is usual. PJ, he's a dog. He brings the same intensity."

His main objective is getting this team championship ready. Harden wants the same intensity from each player on the Rockets every practice. As the leader of this team, he holds himself accountable.

Harden even touched on social justice issues and George Floyd. He loved the protest that happened in the city of Houston. Harden wants to make sure the name he chooses for the back of his jersey is thought out carefully.

"The way the city rallied, it was amazing. I think the world saw it. How so many people could come together. Obliviously it was for a tragic reason. The marching and everything we're standing for is very powerful," Harden said. "I'm in the process of figuring out if I'm going to put a message on my back or another to deliver my message, but somehow my message is going to get across."

The Rockets first game is against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans loss rests squarely on this decision

Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Getty Images.

There are times in which you gamble and it pays off. Then there are times in which you gamble and lose badly. Today was definitely the latter. The Texans fell to the Titans 42-36 in an overtime thriller. The loss rests squarely on the head of interim head coach Romeo Crennel and his ill-timed gambling at the end of the game.

It started with the gamble to go for it on 4th&1 on the Titans' 35-yard line with 4:37 left in the game. That move said two things: A) we're on the road at 1-4 against the 4-0 division leader up by one point so let's try to end this, or B) I don't trust our kicker to make a 53-yard field goal. They converted because David Johnson is good for slamming into the backs of the offensive line for at least a yard or three. The next gamble came eight plays later. It was 4th & Goal from the 1-yard line. The play call was a pass. Deshaun Watson found Randall Cobb after scrambling to extend the play and putting the ball in a tight window on the sideline where only Cobb could catch it. Here's where I started to have a problem with the gambling.

That touchdown made it 36-29 in favor of the Texans. Up by seven with less than two minutes left in the game, the "right" call would be to kick the extra point to potentially go up by eight. That forces the opposition to have to score a touchdown and convert a two point conversion in order to tie the game. Alas...Crennel gambled by trying to force things, went for two, and came up short. Kenny Rogers once said: You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.

The porous defense, however, gave up the game tying touchdown and extra point with four seconds left to send the game into overtime. From there, the Titans got the ball in overtime and drove down the field for the game winning score. A team that played a game on Tuesday evening bullied a team on Sunday at noon. Let that sink in. Sure, Derrick Henry is a linebacker playing running back, but the amount of yards you gave up to him was unacceptable.

Not kicking that extra point to go up by eight with less than two minutes left (1:50 to be exact) was the key coaching move that I feel cost them the game. There's no coming back from blunders like that when you're now 1-5 and would need to go at least 8-2 with tons of help down the stretch to have an outside shot at the newly created seventh spot in the playoffs. You had the division leader down and were in position to get a division win to go to 2-4. Instead, you're now in position to help the Dolphins continue to improve their franchise from the boneheaded decisions Bill O'Brien made before his exit. Crennel and staff coached a good game, until the end when it mattered most. With an extra playoff spot available, they still have an outside shot to make it, but it'll be difficult.

This city and fanbase deserve better. One day, they'll get it and get a winner. Until then unfortunately, they'll have to settle for purgatory, disappointment, and mediocrity. Hold tight. I see good things coming one day Houston football fans.

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