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

Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome