Dominance

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets dominate struggling Trail Blazers 132-108

The Rockets came back to the Toyota Center to face a struggling Trail Blazers team and completely dominated buzzer to buzzer. The left no oxygen for Portland to climb back into it and they put they never relented in their attack on both ends of the floor. This was about a complete performance as you're going to find for a team in the NBA. Seemingly every Houston Rocket had a good game and every possession was used wisely.

"They're playing well, obviously," head coach Mike D'Antoni said of his starting lineup. "Russell [Westbrook] obviously had an extra gear tonight. Just everybody [played well]. It's hard to single out one guy when so many guys played well."

It obviously starts with James Harden, but Russell Westbrook had his best game in a long time, logging 28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. Westbrook wasn't particularly efficient, but was tenacious, speedier than he's ever looked as a Rocket, and was a positive for the Rockets in the non-Harden minutes for the first time in a while. This may have something to do with getting a game off for rest, but whatever the case, Westbrook showed up tonight and gave a glimpse to how scary this team can be when both he and Harden are clicking on all cylinders.

Clint Capela and Danuel House returned Monday night from their injuries and if they had rust from taking a few games off, it was hard to tell. Capela dominated on the glass (20 rebounds) and was active and communicating defensively (4 blocks). Capela has now had 20 rebounds or more in four straight games. House was also good defensively (3 steals) and picked up right where he left off shooting the three-ball (3 of 6 from three-point range).

"[Clint Capela] had a lot of energy as well," said James Harden. He came in and just ran the floor very well, protected the rim, rebounded the basketball at a high level, things that he's capable of doing."

Star of the game: Putting James Harden in this slot feels redundant, but it's also silly to slot anyone else here. Harden logged a ho-hum 36 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal on 11 of 19 shooting from the field and 5 of 10 shooting from three-point range. He was aggressive early on to put the Trail Blazers away and succeeded in doing so in the 2nd quarter, his best stretch of the game. Rhythm-wise, Harden's just on another planet right now and is leading the Rockets straight to the top of the tough Western Conference.

Honorable mention: On his first game back from concussion protocol, Clint Capela looked like he didn't lose a step. Capela tallied 22 points, 20 rebounds, and 4 blocks on 10 of 17 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from the free throw line. It only took a couple of minutes for Capela to regain his rhythm and played extremely well on both sides when he did.

Key moment: James Harden broke open the game in the second quarter where he scored 15 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 shooting from three-point range. What's remarkable is Harden scored all of these points from the 7:18 mark of the second quarter until halftime, where the Rockets went on a 20-10 run.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Denver at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday to play the Nuggets.

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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