New Rock bottom

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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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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