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.

WWE's Royal Rumble arrives this Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Photo by Paul Muth

I'm not a big sign guy.

You know sign guys. The people who write puns on posters. The ones who carry the letter "D" in one had and a cutout of a literal fence in the other. The "Houston, YOU have a problem" sign guys.

I tried it once when I was 14, was punched in the face, and sort of lost my appetite after that.

Let me explain.

It was April 1, 2001. Wrestlemania 17. I won't ask my parents how much it cost them, but my aunt and uncle scored floor seats to the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment in no better confines than the Astrodome herself and I got to tag along.

It was a hell of a show. Some say it was one of the best Wrestlemanias ever. The card was stacked, including a Triple-H match against the hometown hero The Undertaker that set the stage for the main event.

At precisely two hours and forty-eight minutes into the event, Undertaker sent Triple-H flying over the barricade and "INTO THE STANDS!"

"Holy crap," 14-year-old Paul thought. "They're headed right down my aisle."

Now I'm not sure how it works these days, but back then it was totally customary to bail on your seat and follow the fight as they weaved up and down the aisles. I wasn't about to miss the chance so I grabbed my poorly scribbled wrestling poster, glanced back and my Aunt for the OK, then darted after the action.

The fight snaked its way up to some scaffolding with a camera perched atop. There, the fight would stall as they battled their way to the top. Oblivious to anything but the action in front of me, I threw my sign up as high as I could, probably screamed at the top of my lungs, and my voice probably cracked in the process. I was 14.

Suddenly someone pushed me in the back of my shoulder. I turned around and there was an old lady, maybe five feet tall, standing on her chair. She had the quintessential cowgirl big hair and enough costume jewelry on to short-circuit a metal detector.

"GET THE @#$% OUT THE WAY, BOY," she commanded in the most east Texas accent you've ever heard in your life. I ignored her and turned back around.

Then she pushed me again.

I turned around again and before I had any clue what was happening, this knockoff mini Dolly Parton had already connected a stiff left hook to my temple. She then grabbed my sign and ripped it in half. Stunned, I retreated to my seat while tending to a now bleeding eyebrow thanks to what I assume was a Wal-Mart engagement ring.

Haven't really been a big sign guy since.

But this weekend the WWE takes over Minute Maid Park for their annual Pay-Per-View event known as the Royal Rumble. It will be the first time since that fateful night in the Astrodome 19 years ago that I've returned to a high profile wrestling event.

Now am I looking forward to this weekend as an opportunity to retake the dignity that was ripped away so long ago? Probably not. I'll most likely just drink a bunch of beer and yell at wrestlers with my friends. But I'm not ruling anything out.

Now instead of a power rankings this week, I figured that in the spirit of the Royal Rumble we could rehash some of the best sports fights Houston's served up:

#5 Charles Barkley throws man through window

Now I know this one didn't happen on a court, but the story is just too good. In a classic case of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes," a 5'2" Floridian by the name of Jorge Lugo decided to harrass the 6'6" then-power forward for the Houston Rockets at an Orlando bar . Barkley ignored and avoided the issue until a Lugo-thrown glass intended for Barkley missed and struck a nearby woman. Bad move. When judge presiding over the ensuing case asked Barkley if he had any regrets, The Round Mound of Rebound replied "Yeah, I regret we weren't on a higher floor."

#4 Chris Paul serves a two-piece to Rajon Rondo

This one is actually fairly recent and adds to what I discovered was a hefty list of Rockets throw downs. After breaking up a stare down between Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and James Harden, Paul and Rondo began a heated chest-to-chest exchange. From all replay indications it appeared as if Rondo then spit on Paul, which triggered a disrespectful finger push to Rondo's face, which then descended into a good old fashioned knuckle sandwich exchange. Paul was suspended for two games.

#3 Derrick Lewis verifies amateur of amateur status

Some dude actually had the nerve to walk in to UFC Heavyweight fighter and Houston native Derrick Lewis' gym and pick a fight. The amateur claimed that he would knock Lewis out because he was an MMA fighter, and not a real boxer. "The Black Beast" was more than happy to oblige, and swiftly teleported the no name into the shadow realm.

#2 Vernon Maxwell fights Portland man

Sometimes people forget that sporting events are intended to be family friendly. Some also forget that players are people with actual feelings. Maxwell claims that aside from general harassment, a Portland fan decided to bring Maxwell's wife's recent miscarriage to light as well. Maxwell stood up from the bench, calmly walked up the stairs, and knocked the crap out of the dude. Maxwell was suspended 10 games.

#1 Andre Johnson baptizes Courtland Finnegan

It had been seasons in the making. Finnegan had built a reputation out of adding cheap shots here and there, ripping helmets off at the end of plays, and various other dirty tactics. In late November of 2010 Johnson had reached the end of his rope. Schadenfreude was the flavor of the day for all Texans fans as Johnson manhandled Finnegan, reigning down fists of righteous justice.

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