Helter skelter

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets defeat 76ers in Houston 118-108

This game was the definition of back and forth in terms of the amount of momentum changes that occurred, particularly in the third quarter. Russell Westbrook had a signature "This is the Russell Westbrook experience" game tonight, scoring 20 points on 9 of 22 shooting from the field and turning the ball over 4 times.

Early in the first quarter, Philadelphia's length and physicality seemed to bother Houston, as evidenced by their 20 points scored on 30.8 percent shooting from the field. However, the Rockets, particularly James Harden, seemed to figure things out in the second quarter as they rallied back from score 40 points on 68.4 percent shooting and 42.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Harden scored 14 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from three-point range in the second quarter and the Rockets outscored Philadelphia 29-16.

The Sixers made several efforts to come back and Westbrook's third quarter performance nearly gave it to them, (4 points, 2 of 7 shooting from the field, and 3 turnovers), but Houston managed to stay in it until the end. Tonight gave another glimpse to how good the Rockets can be on both ends when fully healthy. Houston posted an offensive rating of 114.9 (good for second in the league) and a defensive rating of 105.2 (would be good for 12th in the league) against a pretty good Philadelphia team. It'll be interesting to see if their momentum from the Nuggets game and tonight carries over to the rest of the season.

Star of the game: What James Harden did tonight was truly a work of art. The 76ers, a team with plenty of length and defensive versatility, had no idea what to do with him. If they trapped, Harden broke the traps with crisp passes. If they single coveraged, Harden drained a step-back three or drove by his defender (either Ben Simmons or Josh Richardson for most of the night). Harden had 44 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block on a ludicrous 75.1 true shooting percentage.

Honorable mention: Clint Capela had his best game in a long time tonight against a tough match-up in Joel Embiid. Capela, still in pain from the right heel injury, used his speed to outrun Embiid down the court several times tonight and was available for dump-off passes when Embiid would step up to defend Harden. Capela finished with 30 points 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block on 76.8 percent true shooting.

Key moment: To start the second quarter, the Rockets opened with a 29-16 run to give them an 8 point lead with 4:24 remaining in the half. Harden led the Rockets this quarter with 14 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from three-point range.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

WWE's Royal Rumble arrives this Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Photo by Paul Muth

I'm not a big sign guy.

You know sign guys. The people who write puns on posters. The ones who carry the letter "D" in one had and a cutout of a literal fence in the other. The "Houston, YOU have a problem" sign guys.

I tried it once when I was 14, was punched in the face, and sort of lost my appetite after that.

Let me explain.

It was April 1, 2001. Wrestlemania 17. I won't ask my parents how much it cost them, but my aunt and uncle scored floor seats to the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment in no better confines than the Astrodome herself and I got to tag along.

It was a hell of a show. Some say it was one of the best Wrestlemanias ever. The card was stacked, including a Triple-H match against the hometown hero The Undertaker that set the stage for the main event.

At precisely two hours and forty-eight minutes into the event, Undertaker sent Triple-H flying over the barricade and "INTO THE STANDS!"

"Holy crap," 14-year-old Paul thought. "They're headed right down my aisle."

Now I'm not sure how it works these days, but back then it was totally customary to bail on your seat and follow the fight as they weaved up and down the aisles. I wasn't about to miss the chance so I grabbed my poorly scribbled wrestling poster, glanced back and my Aunt for the OK, then darted after the action.

The fight snaked its way up to some scaffolding with a camera perched atop. There, the fight would stall as they battled their way to the top. Oblivious to anything but the action in front of me, I threw my sign up as high as I could, probably screamed at the top of my lungs, and my voice probably cracked in the process. I was 14.

Suddenly someone pushed me in the back of my shoulder. I turned around and there was an old lady, maybe five feet tall, standing on her chair. She had the quintessential cowgirl big hair and enough costume jewelry on to short-circuit a metal detector.

"GET THE @#$% OUT THE WAY, BOY," she commanded in the most east Texas accent you've ever heard in your life. I ignored her and turned back around.

Then she pushed me again.

I turned around again and before I had any clue what was happening, this knockoff mini Dolly Parton had already connected a stiff left hook to my temple. She then grabbed my sign and ripped it in half. Stunned, I retreated to my seat while tending to a now bleeding eyebrow thanks to what I assume was a Wal-Mart engagement ring.

Haven't really been a big sign guy since.

But this weekend the WWE takes over Minute Maid Park for their annual Pay-Per-View event known as the Royal Rumble. It will be the first time since that fateful night in the Astrodome 19 years ago that I've returned to a high profile wrestling event.

Now am I looking forward to this weekend as an opportunity to retake the dignity that was ripped away so long ago? Probably not. I'll most likely just drink a bunch of beer and yell at wrestlers with my friends. But I'm not ruling anything out.

Now instead of a power rankings this week, I figured that in the spirit of the Royal Rumble we could rehash some of the best sports fights Houston's served up:

#5 Charles Barkley throws man through window

Now I know this one didn't happen on a court, but the story is just too good. In a classic case of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes," a 5'2" Floridian by the name of Jorge Lugo decided to harrass the 6'6" then-power forward for the Houston Rockets at an Orlando bar . Barkley ignored and avoided the issue until a Lugo-thrown glass intended for Barkley missed and struck a nearby woman. Bad move. When judge presiding over the ensuing case asked Barkley if he had any regrets, The Round Mound of Rebound replied "Yeah, I regret we weren't on a higher floor."

#4 Chris Paul serves a two-piece to Rajon Rondo

This one is actually fairly recent and adds to what I discovered was a hefty list of Rockets throw downs. After breaking up a stare down between Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and James Harden, Paul and Rondo began a heated chest-to-chest exchange. From all replay indications it appeared as if Rondo then spit on Paul, which triggered a disrespectful finger push to Rondo's face, which then descended into a good old fashioned knuckle sandwich exchange. Paul was suspended for two games.

#3 Derrick Lewis verifies amateur of amateur status

Some dude actually had the nerve to walk in to UFC Heavyweight fighter and Houston native Derrick Lewis' gym and pick a fight. The amateur claimed that he would knock Lewis out because he was an MMA fighter, and not a real boxer. "The Black Beast" was more than happy to oblige, and swiftly teleported the no name into the shadow realm.

#2 Vernon Maxwell fights Portland man

Sometimes people forget that sporting events are intended to be family friendly. Some also forget that players are people with actual feelings. Maxwell claims that aside from general harassment, a Portland fan decided to bring Maxwell's wife's recent miscarriage to light as well. Maxwell stood up from the bench, calmly walked up the stairs, and knocked the crap out of the dude. Maxwell was suspended 10 games.

#1 Andre Johnson baptizes Courtland Finnegan

It had been seasons in the making. Finnegan had built a reputation out of adding cheap shots here and there, ripping helmets off at the end of plays, and various other dirty tactics. In late November of 2010 Johnson had reached the end of his rope. Schadenfreude was the flavor of the day for all Texans fans as Johnson manhandled Finnegan, reigning down fists of righteous justice.

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