Baby steps

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

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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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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