In a game thought to be uneventful, as shown by the Vegas spread (Houston -12.0), the Rockets hung on to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans in a close one, 126-123. Despite missing Zion Williamson and Jrue Holiday and coming off a back-to-back, the Pelicans pushed Houston to the brink and came very close to coming out on top. For the Rockets, it's become increasingly clear that their defense is a point of concern that needs to be corrected as quickly as possible. Even head coach Mike D'Antoni, who said Thursday that he felt good about where Houston was defensively, changed his tune Saturday night.
"Things have changed," said D'Antoni, chuckling. "We just weren't into them again. I mean we have that tendency, but they were superfast, they kept coming at us. We would go up 10, and then we would relax, but you can't do that. You know, we're not real sharp right now and you have to gut these things out."
The Rockets allowed Brandon Ingram to log one of his best games of his career, chipping in 35 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists for the Pelicans on a ridiculous 72.3% true shooting. Houston just didn't have an answer for the 22 year old, nor did they have one for Josh Hart, who scored 23 points of his own on 64.3% true shooting (5 of 12 from three-point range).
What turned it around for the Rockets is the same man who nearly stole them their first win on Thursday, Russell Westbrook. Westbrook's fingerprints were all over Houston's second half turnaround as he pulled in 18 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds all in the second half alone.
"It's something I think my team needed from me at the time," Westbrook said after the game. "I was there to be aggressive and find ways to better make an impact on the game."
A storyline that continued on from Thursday's loss is James Harden's poor shooting. Although he scored 28 points, Harden shot 8 for 29 from the field and 2 for 18 from three-point range. Harden is now 3 for 27 for the season from behind the arc.
"He's lost his rhythm a little bit," said D'Antoni. "Nothing to worry about. There's no way it's going to last this way."
Harden expressed a similar lack of concern.
"I'm going to take as many shots as they give me," said Harden. "I was in [the gym] yesterday working on that same shot and this morning on that same shot. Tonight, it just didn't fall."
Star of the game: For the second straight game, Russell Westbrook will take home these honors. Tonight, Westbrook pulled in 28 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds, and 1 steal on great efficiency (65.4% true shooting). His timing is now there with all of his teammates, including Clint Capela, his pace has dictated what the Rockets are doing offensively, and he has willed Houston through all of their dull moments so far this (short) season.
Honorable mention: Danuel House's development is one of the more under the radar storylines of Houston's season. Not only is he hitting his three-pointers at over a 40% clip - something he carried over from last season - his ball-handling and decision making is really starting to come together. House scored 15 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and was 4 of 5 from three-point range.
Key moment: Westbrook's dunk in transition capped off what was one hellacious stretch for the 30-year-old point guard.
Up next: Chris Paul returns to the Toyota Center to face his former team on Monday, 7:00 p.m.
🗣 Russell BEASTbrook https://t.co/oWZXYwpQMe— Houston Rockets (@Houston Rockets) 1572141896.0
The Houston Texans came away with a thrilling win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday and improved their record to 7-5 with the Jets up next on the schedule.
And while Nico Collins had a huge game with almost 200 yards receiving, the big story from Sunday was Will Anderson and the Texans' defense.
Anderson had two sacks and four QB hits, making it a long day for Russell Wilson. Anderson also tipped a pass that was intercepted by Derek Singley. And let's not forget, he also got a piece of a punt that helped Houston get better field position.
Derek Stingley Jr had two of the Texans interceptions this week, and he's starting to remind fans why he was selected with the No. 3 pick in the draft.
The Texans showed a lot of heart as they were able to stop the Broncos and secure the win when Jimmy Ward caught Wilson's third interception of the day in the end zone.
It should also be noted that after a rough performance against the Jaguars, corner Tavierre Thomas didn't play a single snap on defense, with Desmond King starting in his place at nickel corner. King led the team in tackles and also made a huge play, stripping the ball from the running back and scoring a touchdown. The player was later overturned and didn't count. Once again highlighting the terrible officiating in the NFL this season. Had the play counted, the score would not have been close.
Bad news for Texans fans
There were some negatives from the game, unfortunately. Texans receiver Tank Dell broke his fibula blocking at the goal line, and will miss the remainder of the season. A huge blow for Houston. Also, a questionable decision to have Dell blocking in that situation.
Someone will have to pick up the slack with Dell unavailable moving forward. Noah Brown had back-to-back games with over 150 receiving yards, before missing two games due to injury. In his first game back against Denver, he had two targets and didn't record a catch. He also had a drop on Sunday.
Robert Woods also had zero catches this Sunday, so something will have to change. Stroud can't have two of his top three receivers without any catches.
Be sure to watch the video above for our reaction to the Texans win, how the Texans will acclimate to life without Tank Dell, and much more!
Catch Texans on Tap (a Texans podcast) every Monday on YouTube.