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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Houston has lost seven of eight

Mariners ride big fifth inning to series win over Astros

Jake Odorizzi earned his second loss as an Astro Sunday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

With the losing streak behind them by taking the middle game on Saturday night, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon to try and make it back-to-back victories to take the series. Instead, they'd suffer their seventh loss in the last eight games.

Final Score: Mariners 7, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 7-8, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ljay Newsome (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-2)

Odorizzi locks in through four while Houston grabs a lead

Jake Odorizzi did not start his afternoon the way he needed to in order to have a good rebound outing compared to his first start. In the 37-pitch first inning, he issued two walks and an RBI-single, putting the Mariners at a significant advantage early. Odorizzi flipped the switch, though, finding a rhythm to retire the next ten batters after that RBI-single to get through four innings with just one run allowed.

Offensively for Houston, they quickly responded to Seattle's run in the first with one of their own in the top of the second, capitalizing on some shoddy defense by Seattle to get Carlos Correa to second to set up an RBI ground-rule double by Aledmys Diaz, tying things up 1-1. It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when a leadoff walk by Chas McCormick would turn into a run after a stolen base and two sacrifice flys to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Mariners explode for four in the fifth

The lead was short-lived, as Seattle would explode in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single and one-out walk to set up a two-RBI triple by Mitch Haniger to go ahead 3-2. That would prompt Dusty Baker out of the dugout to end Odorizzi's day and move on to Brooks Raley. Raley would not fare any better, giving up a two-run homer to Ty France to extend Seattle's new lead to 5-2. He would finish the inning, putting Odorizzi's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 89 P.

Seattle takes the series

Seattle would strike again in the bottom of the seventh against Joe Smith. After a leadoff walk, the Mariners would get back-to-back one-out RBI-doubles to extend their lead to 7-2. After Smith in the seventh, Peter Solomon would make his major-league debut in the bottom of the eighth and work around a one-out walk for a scoreless inning. Houston would then come up empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the finale and the series to Seattle.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Denver tonight and get an off day tomorrow. Tuesday night, they'll start a quick two-game set with the Rockies at 7:40 PM Central. Houston currently has Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA) penciled in as their starter, but with ongoing illness, he has not yet been fully confirmed. For the Rockies, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.87 ERA) is expected to start.

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