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.

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Houston looked much more like themselves

Astros return to form in win over Angels at home

Cristian Javier was impressive Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hoping to avoid spiraling further out of control, the Astros turned the page from their disappointing road trip and the recent stretch of games. They hoped to start this new homestand on a good note, welcoming in the Angels for four games of this eight-game stint at Minute Maid Park.

Houston would get the much-needed win, with their offense coming alive early in the game to put up big innings, which they rode to the victory thanks in part to a great start by Cristian Javier.

Final Score: Astros 8, Angels 2

Astros' Record: 8-10, fifth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Alex Cobb (1-1)

Astros' offense starts clicking early

Houston would grab the early momentum, despite leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. They would get a leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI triple by Myles Straw to jump in front 1-0. They made it a three-run inning, with an RBI by Carlos Correa then a bases-loaded RBI-walk by Yuli Gurriel, though for consecutive innings would leave three runners stranded on base.

Correa drove in another in the bottom of the next inning, getting an RBI single to push the lead to four runs, then would come in on a two-run single by Alex Bregman, who made it 6-0. That set things up nicely for Cristian Javier, who was on the mound trying to take advantage of the opportunity for another start.

Javier has an electric start



Javier was electric over the first three innings, including getting eight of the first nine outs by strikeout while allowing only a walk and double during that span. He would have longer innings in the next two, but in both cases would keep the Angels off the board, finishing in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 98 P.

Houston gets the much-needed win

Meanwhile, Houston's offense kept scoring. They pushed the lead two runs further over the fourth and fifth, getting a run in each with another RBI each for Straw and Bregman. With Javier's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen, and despite allowing a controversial two-run home run to Albert Pujols, of all people, that looked to be a foul ball, got through the inning.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the seventh but would get just one out while hitting a batter and allowing a single before Dusty Baker brought in Brooks Raley to face the heavy left-handed part of the Angels lineup. Raley would get through it, sending things to the seventh-inning stretch with the six-run lead intact.

Raley would get another out before Joe Smith would finish that inning in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly, who has been starved for work lately with no save opportunities, would close things out in the ninth as Houston would start this series off with a win.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday night. Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will be on the mound for the Angels, while Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will look to repeat the success of his last start; an eight-inning shutout performance for the Astros.

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