Doubling down. Literally.

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets defeat Hornets in Houston 125-110

It may take 50 games for the fanbase to buy into Mike D'Antoni's small-ball approach, but they'd struggle to make a hard-case that it hasn't been a winning formula for the Rockets. They've now won four games in a row in which they've played without a traditional center for 90% of the minutes. Their strategy is simple: give up the rebounding battle and win the turnover battle.

It's pretty clear that the Rockets have made the fundamental switch to small-ball as a full-time ideology. Few teams have gone this all-in, but they clearly have confidence in their ability to win this way.

"I think with small ball it's just making good decisions," said P.J. Tucker after the game. "It's all guards out there so everybody making good decisions and making decisions for each other and plays for each other and getting open shots."

At the time of writing this, the Houston Rockets just swung a massive trade for swingman Robert Covington, giving up Clint Capela, Gerald Green, and a first round pick. This means they not only will continue with this style of play, but they've doubled down on it. Houston views the center position as an expendable asset and wings as more conducive to their style of play.

This isn't the proper article to break down a massive trade like this, but it fits in with the ethos - Houston's picked an identity that they want to play and they're going to double down on it for the rest of the season. Whether it'll lead them to the promise land is a different conversation, but there's no question whether or not they believe it.

Star of the game: Games like this remind you how much of an offensive hub James Harden can be by himself for an elite offense if he was asked to. The Rockets surrounded Harden with nothing but shooters for 45 minutes (Isaiah Hartenstein played 3 minutes off the bench) as he tallied 40 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block on 11 of 26 shooting from the field, 4 of 11 shooting from three-point range, and 14 of 15 shooting from the free throw line.

Honorable mention: On a night where they really needed someone other than James Harden to show up, Danuel House took the bill. House tallied 22 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, and 1 steal on 8 of 13 shooting from the field and 6 of 11 from three-point range. Over his last five games, House is averaging 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks on 44.1% shooting from the field and 43.2% shooting from three-point range. House seems to have his confidence back, his jumper is falling again, and he's imposing his will in transition.

Key moment: Much like Sunday night against the Pelicans, Sunday night is where Houston really bunkered down defensively, allowing only 22 points and out-rebounding the Pelicans 13-9. James Harden completely destroyed Charlotte's defense in this quarter as well, scoring 14 of his 40 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the field and 3 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Los Angeles at 9:30 on Thursday to take on the Lakers.

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The Twins have lost 16 consecutive playoff games. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Astros 2020 redemption tour – better known as the Major League post-season - starts today with a quicky best-of-three series against the Minnesota Twins, kings of the American League Central division.

All games will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis. While the Twins had baseball's best home record, 24-7, and the Astros were roadkill with a disastrous 9-23 mark away from Minute Maid Park …

I'd still rather be us than them, and there are sweet 16 reasons why.

It's a hard-to-believe stat, but the Twins have lost 16 consecutive playoff games, the Major League record for post-season futility. You can look it up, the Twins were bamboozled 13 times by the Yankees and three times by the A's since 2003.

A more important date, however, is 1991, the last time the Twins sniffed the World Series. Most of the Twins' regulars, including Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario. Byron Buxton, Max Kepler weren't even born yet when the Twins last played in the Fall Classic. You know Newton's First Law, right? An object in motion stays in motion. With even a little effort, the Twins will extend their playoff losing streak to 18.

In the Astros dugout, all you have is experience under pressure. The Astros have seen the World Series from both sides – winning in 2017 and losing in 2019, sandwiched around another playoff appearance in 2018. The Astros succeed under the gun.

OK, this season the Astros are a rare playoff team with a losing record, 29-31, successfully managing to lose less than the Angels and Mariners. But thanks to an expanded playoff scheme concocted by commissioner Rob Manfred, 29-31 was good enough for second place in the American League West and automatic entry to the post-season. Hey, the Astros didn't make the rules, don't blame them.

The Twins are a heavy favorite to smack the Astros this week thanks to their regular-season record. That was then, this is now. It's a whole new ballgame, everybody's starting 0-0.

Look at today's starting pitchers (1 p.m. on ABC 13). The Twins are throwing Kenta Maeda, a pretty good pitcher for sure. We'll have Zack Greinke, a future Hall of Famer, with a lifetime 208-126 record. He's the winningest active pitcher and would have 209 wins if a certain bonehead manager left him in Game 7 of last year's World Series. And I say bonehead with love and admiration for dearly departed (from Houston) manager A.J. Hinch.

I like our chances in Game 2, too. The Twins will have Jose Barrios on the mound, the Astros are starting TBD. It's practically impossible to prepare for that guy TBD, so the Astros could wrap up the series in two games.

I'm sticking with the Astros in 2020. More important, the Astros are +150 on the money line today. The over/under is 7.5 runs. In the words of the world's greatest gambler, Cosmo Kramer, that's some sweet action.

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