Not great, but solid win

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets defeat Kings on the road 113-104

This wasn't a great win by any means for the Rockets, but it was definitely solid. Houston's fast-pace and high scoring effort put the Kings in a hole early on and the Rockets played decent enough defense to hold off a Sacramento run.

Was it pretty? No, but it didn't have to be.

As the few several games have been, this was yet another game that confirmed what we've seen from Russell Westbrook the past couple weeks is real - he's still a legitimate NBA All-Star with the ability to rise to higher levels on occasion. This might sound like a silly thing to confirm, but his early season returns combined with his last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder gave Rockets' fans appropriate fear that perhaps the Westbrook of a few years ago simply doesn't exist anymore. Tonight, he showed again how he could still be a pretty nice second option on a potential title contender.

De'Aaron Fox was relentless against Houston, tallying 31 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists on 13 of 31 shooting from the field. Fox was the main driving force that kept Sacramento within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter. Trevor Ariza also fared well against his former team, logging 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal on 4 of 8 shooting from the field and 2 of 5 shooting from three-point range.

You'd like to see Houston sustain a lead so their starters can get rest late in the fourth quarter, but this was a solid win for the team, nonetheless.

Star of the game: This was a run of the mill James Harden game in that he had 35 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block on 10 of 19 shooting from the field, 4 of 11 shooting from three-point range, and 10 of 12 shooting from the free throw line. I guess we have to accept this statline as the new normal for Harden. Perhaps pedestrian by his standards this season. In all seriousness, Harden was very good and there's not much else to say here.

Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook keeps adding to his collection of very good and efficient games leading one to the natural conclusion that the run he's on may not be a fluke. Westbrook logged 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal on 10 of 22 shooting from the field, 3 of 4 shooting from three-point range, and 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line. Ever since he's healed up from the summer knee surgery he received and his finger injuries, Westbrook has performed as the true number two option to Harden that they hoped they'd get once they made the trade.

Key moment: The third quarter is really where the Rockets made their money, outscoring the Kings 32-22 and shooting 13 of 21 from the field (61.9) and 4 of 6 from three-point range (66.7%). Westbrook and Harden led the charge, combining for 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field. This gave Houston a 97-79 lead, enough to hold on and win it in the end despite the Kings surging back in the 4th quarter.

Up next: The Rockets travel to San Francisco at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday to play the Golden State Warriors.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome