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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We'll see if Watson is in pads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans had their last practice before pads come on for the first time on Tuesday. There was plenty to see on Monday.

1. Deshaun Watson had his usual extremely light level of work. He did very little throwing to teammates, though he did throw to the tight ends in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Texans head coach David Culley said "nothing has changed" when asked if Deshaun Watson will be in pads Tuesday. Culley has maintained that answer for a couple of sessions now.

3. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was back after missing Saturday with an excused personal day. Taylor has been the best quarterback in camp by a wide margin. Taylor makes better decisions with the football than other quarterbacks, but he does struggle on deeper passes. Taylor missed wildly on one deep ball and was a little wobbly on another.

4. Nobody in camp can cover wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This could be the easiest training camp of his life. He easily gets open in 1-on-1 situations.

5. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins continues to flash his abilities in camp. Collins easily shook loose from defensive back John Reid and took the route vertical for an easy score. Collins later had a tough catch in traffic.

6. It's only been a few days, but the competition for inside wide receiver reps is tough. Former Bears wideout Anthony Miller has looked quick and nothing like the "draft bust" the Bears fans watched. Keke Coutee has rarely lost a rep, but Desmond King did win a few times over Coutee in the opening days of camp. Former Bengals wideout Alex Erickson finds himself constantly open. The cuts at wide receiver are already shaking out to be difficult.

7. Davis Mills bounced back in a sense that he couldn't be worse than he was on Saturday. The performance from Mills on Saturday was abysmal, but head coach David Culley said he liked how Mills responded today. With Tyrod Taylor back, there were fewer reps for Mills, but he had some impressive throws to go along with an off-target throw or two. Mills was far better than Jeff Driskel on Monday. Driskel tossed two interceptions right to defenders, including one that would've gone the wrong way for a score.

8. This linebacker group is interesting. With a new defensive scheme under Lovie Smith, the type of linebacker is very different from previous years. There was a clear emphasis on cover ability as these linebackers were added to the team.

9. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis have both had some significant wins for the linebackers in coverage.

10. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan looks the part physically, but he's had a rough few days, including a drop on Monday.

11. With the pads coming on Tuesday, it will be fun to watch the rebuilt defensive line clash with the many combinations of the offensive line. There will be no J.J. Watt who historically stirred up the team on day one of pads. Laremy Tunsil's cool confidence about the offensive line over the weekend leads me to believe they are a confident group, while there are spots to be won on the defensive side of the line.

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