Sub-optimal

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets lose to Trail Blazers in Houston 117-107

Coming off a tough game in Memphis in which five Rockets played over 32 minutes each, Houston was a team with little to no energy and it showed. The back-to-back doesn't excuse Houston's lack of energy and that's what will come to bite Houston at the end of the season when they're trying to make a push for a top seed.

The effort defensively was non-existent (114.1 defensive rating) as their lack of rotations led to open shot after open shot and gave the Trail Blazers enough breathing room to stay in the game. James Harden's lack of effort in particular, stood out. Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Ben McLemore, and Clint Capela all took more field goal attempts than Harden tonight. In his defense, the Trail Blazers did a fair bit of trapping tonight and he played 39 minutes the night before. However, the Rockets were counting on Harden to lead them in the fourth quarter when Westbrook opened up the window and he played passively.

After the game, Mike D'Antoni took several minutes longer than usual before speaking to the media and it turned out it was because the Rockets held a post-game meeting with the team discussing a lot of their issues.

"Just playing hard," said Westbrook when asked what's been lacking with the Rockets. "Xs and Os don't really matter. Just playing consistently on a night-in and night-out basis."

This is a make or break moment for the Rockets. As D'Antoni said post-game, the team is in a rough spot (lost 3 out of their last 4 games) and there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved before Houston can truly hit their ceiling.

Star of the game: Russell Westbrook was the only reason the Rockets were even in the game in the fourth quarter. Westbrook had one of his best games of the season, logging 31 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds, and 1 steal on 11 of 22 shooting from the field and 2 of 5 shooting from three-point range.

Honorable mention: Clint Capela might still be dealing with right heel soreness, but that hasn't stopped him from putting up awesome numbers these past few games. Capela logged 14 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal on 7 of 14 shooting from the field. Against Hassan Whiteside, Mike D'Antoni had no choice but to play Capela a lot (36 minutes) and despite the loss, Capela took advantage of the opportunity.

Key moment: The bottom fell out for the Rockets in the second quarter where the Trail Blazers outscored them 32 to 21. Houston shot 3 of 14 from three-point range and missed on several good looks. On the other side, Portland shot 3 of 6 from three-point range and a returning Carmelo Anthony scored 8 points on 3 of 4 shooting from the field. C.J. McCollum had 8 points of his own on 3 of 6 shooting from the field. The Rockets were feisty in the fourth quarter, but were never able to fully recover from this quarter.

Up next: The Rockets play the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:30 p.m. in Houston on Saturday.

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McCullers Jr. had nine strikeouts over four

McCullers Jr. looks sharp in tune-up before Rangers overpower Houston's bullpen

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite watching their chance to clinch their playoff spot on the field slip away in the walk-off loss on Friday, the Astros benefited from a loss by the Angels later in the night, securing their playoff berth. That meant they could play conservatively in the final two games of the season against the Rangers in Arlington. Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's matchup:

Final Score: Rangers 6, Astros 1.

Record: 29-30, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jimmy Herget (1-0, 3.20 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brandon Bielak (3-3, 6.75 ERA).

McCullers Jr. looks playoff-ready 

With nothing substantial to play for, the Astros did not expect to ask Lance McCullers Jr. to go deep into Saturday's game, instead giving him a few innings for a tune-up before assuming whatever role he would play in the post-season. He looked impressive, a promising sign after his injury stint and struggles on the road at points this season.

He finished four innings, during which he racked up a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up no runs on just two hits, both singles, and two walks. His final line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 61 P.

Both teams trade runs as  they go to their bullpens

Meanwhile, neither team was getting much going at the plate in the early goings, keeping it a scoreless game through the first five. Brandon Bielak took over for McCullers Jr. starting in the fifth but would allow the first run of the night in the bottom of the sixth as the Rangers would get three singles to take a 1-0 lead.

After Kyle Gibson held the Astros at bay for six innings, Houston would get on the board against Texas' bullpen, getting a leadoff double by Aledmyz Diaz in the top of the seventh. Diaz moved to third on a sac bunt, then scored on a sac fly by Jack Mayfield, making it 1-1.

Rangers blow it open in the seventh

The tie didn't last long, as Bielak would put two on base in the bottom of the seventh before giving up a three-run homer to make it a 4-1 Rangers lead. Andre Scrubb was next out of Houston's bullpen and allowed a solo home run on his first pitch. Scrubb would complete the inning, but not before allowing another run on three singles to push Texas' lead to 6-1.

Cy Sneed was next out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth and tossed a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. Houston would not make the unlikely comeback in the top of the ninth, with the Rangers taking the game 6-1.

Up Next: The last game of the Astros' 2020 regular season will be Sunday at 2:05 PM Central, as are most other games on the MLB slate on the league's final regular-season day. Houston's starter is TBD as they will continue to preserve their arms for the best-of-three first round that starts on Tuesday, while Texas will send Jordan Lyles (1-6, 7.08 ERA) to the mound.

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