Baby steps

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets build upon Memphis win, defeating Warriors 129-112

The Houston Rockets took a small step towards getting back to contending form Wednesday night with their blowout win over the depleted Golden State Warriors. After getting a decent win over the young, rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, the Rockets had absolutely no excuse to come return home and lose to an already shaky Warriors team missing All-Stars Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. Houston did exactly what was expected of them for the second game in a row which is a nice change of pace to their up-and-down season.

Mike D'Antoni harped on the Rockets' conditioning being the reason for Houston's struggles to start the season.

"We're just not in great shape right now," said D'Antoni after the game. "We'll get there."

Multiple Rockets players agreed with D'Antoni's assessment, including notably, Clint Capela who'd struggled mightily up until tonight (19 points, 16 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 2 assists).

"I feel like everybody's not there yet, but it's getting there," said Capela. "It was a short preseason, we went to Japan, we came back, we're a vet team. We're like the 2nd oldest team in the NBA. For some of the guys, it took a little bit more than young teams to get where they want to be."

Star of the game: James Harden finished the game with 36 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. Harden shot 10 for 23 from the field, 6 for 16 from three-point range, and 10 for 13 from the free throw line.

Honorable mention: P.J. Tucker had his best game of the season, logging 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. Tucker shot 9 of 14 from the field, 4 of 8 from three-point range, and finished the game a +32.

Key moment: James Harden had an 18-point stretch to close the 2nd quarter after Eric Pascall turned to the Warriors bench and called him "food". Harden had been struggling with his three-point shot all season (25.3% before this game) and was due for a big game like this.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Chicago on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. to take on the rebuilding Chicago Bulls.

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College football needs to call a timeout on the 2020 season.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 are set to announce, maybe today, perhaps in a few weeks, whether they will play football this fall.

Already the Ivy League, Mountain West and Mid-American Conference have canceled their fall football season for health and safety reasons amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Power 5 conferences – the Big Ten, Pac-12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference – should get onboard and put their football seasons on hold, too.

While some elected officials without medical degrees say that coronavirus amounts to little more than sniffles for young people, healthcare experts argue that college-age people, while they do recover quickly and may not exhibit symptoms, do contract and spread the virus.

There has been a 90 percent increase of young people testing positive for the virus in the past four weeks. More important, health experts say they can't measure the long-term effects of the virus, which may include brain damage, heart disease and reduced lung capacity.

There is a simple solution to play or not play college football this fall – postpone the season to next spring, when health experts will know more about the disease. There possibly could be a vaccine by then, which would allow fans back in stadiums.

Many high-profile college players and coaches weighed in on the debate Monday, almost unanimously saying that the 2020 football schedule should be played on schedule, starting in a few weeks.

Players, including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, adopted the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. In a tweet, Lawrence said that players would be more at risk for coronavirus if the fall season doesn't move forward. "We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football."

Lawrence added that, if the football season is canceled or postponed, players "will be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely."

Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN, "Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home."

Two points: University presidents should listen to only one group of people – healthcare professionals – when they decide whether to cancel or postpone the fall football season. Yes, players want to play during this pandemic. But players also want to play when they are injured or their brain was just scrambled by a vicious tackle. We applaud athletes who play with a broken leg. We see players with concussions plead with their coaches to put them back in the game.

As for the argument that players are more likely to catch the virus if they're sent home – who's sending them home? These are student-athletes. Students. Most college campuses will be open with students attending classes this fall. Major college programs like Clemson have 85 full scholarships designated for football. Colleges won't take away players' scholarships if the football season is canceled. Clemson's campus will open Sept. 21 for in-person classes.

ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy also said the season should be played as scheduled: "If they're (players) OK, then I'm OK." Texas governor Greg Abbott chimed in on the players' side. He said, "It's their careers, it's their health."

What "careers" is he talking about? There are about 775 colleges that play football. Only 1.7 percent of all those players will play in the NFL or another professional league. On Sept. 3, Rice University will play Army. It is unlikely that any of those players will have a career in football. However, given the excellence of academics at those colleges, players will have career opportunities in something other than football. The average NFL career is 2-1/2 years. Rice and Army grads can top that.

The NBA is completing its season in a bubble in Orlando, with players confined to their hotels between games. Only 22 teams are in Orlando for the lockdown. The Rockets organization sent about 35 people, including coaches, players and essential personnel to Orlando.

Baseball is playing its season outside a bubble. So many players are testing positive for coronavirus that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred last week threatened to end the season if teams don't do a better job of enforcing the league's health protocol. What's left is an unbalanced season. For example, the Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners have played 18 games, while the St. Louis Cardinals have played only five games. The ironically first-place Miami Marlins, which had 18 players test positive, have played only 10 games.

College football can't be played in a bubble. There are too many teams, with some having more than 100 players and 20 coaches. And no sport thrives on fans' excitement and marching bands like college football. Several colleges, including the University of Texas and Texas A&M, have stadiums that hold more than 100,000 fans. Even if college football could be played in a bubble, it would require isolating players from August to January, when they're supposed to be in class. I know … supposed.

This one is easy. For the health and safety of players, play the fall 2020 season in spring 2021.

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