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The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall to Hornets in Charlotte 108-99

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall to Hornets in Charlotte 108-99

From start to finish, this was a bizarre game for the Rockets. For starters, they were severely shorthanded due to missing Eric Gordon (knee soreness) and Russell Westbrook, who took the game off due to it being the front end of a back-to-back. On top of that, Houston put themselves in a significant hole after failing to score for the first 7 minutes of the game, trailing 20-0.

There was a point where it seemed like the Rockets would finish the entire first quarter without registering a field goal, but Harden drove and kicked to Robert Covington for a catch-and-shoot three. Covington was actually pretty good tonight, tallying 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal on 9 of 16 shooting from the field and 7 of 13 shooting from three-point range. Unfortunately for Houston, it'll go down as a wasted effort on his part.

There's just been a malaise about this Rockets team that hasn't subsided since their loss to the Knicks. It's pretty inexcusable effort as their schedule to close out the season is relatively easy, but they've already thrown away two games against bad opponents in the Knicks and now the Hornets. This was a chance for Houston to capitalize and climb up the Western Conference standings for ideal playoff positioning and they're floundering at a time where they should be peaking.

Star of the game: James Harden logged 30 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and 10 turnovers on 8 of 22 shooting (not the most flattering quadruple double). With the Rockets returning to Houston tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. to play the Magic, Harden logged a ridiculous 45 minutes tonight. If this was a standalone game, it might be understandable why Harden would have to play this much (Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook out), but it seems kind of shortsighted for Houston to allow this. Sure Harden's carried bigger loads before, but he's 31 and they have to start managing his minutes considering he's under contract for the next few years.

Honorable mention: This might've been Jeff Green's best game as a Rocket and his minutes were actually pretty impactful, all things considering. Green tallied 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists, and 10 of 15 shooting from the field.

Key moment: The first 7 minutes of the game is the pretty obvious winner for key moment as the Rockets were never able to recover from the 20-0 deficit. It was the culmination of what has been a week of slow starts for the Rockets. The body language was bad, the passes were sloppy, and the defense was nonexistent. This is a persistent issue Houston has to correct if they want to have any chance at a top three seed to end the season.

Up next: The Rockets return to Houston at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday to play the Orlando Magic.

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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