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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The Marlins are showing interest in Yuli Gurriel. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

As the reporting date for pitchers and catchers draws near, there are still some decisions hanging over the Astros. One of them is whether or not to bring back Yuli Gurriel. “La Piña,” as he's affectionately called, is 38 years old. He turns 39 in June. His leadership and instincts cannot be matched. The man has seen a ton of baseball and comes from a family of baseballers. So, what's the holdup?

Enter the Miami Marlins. The ownership group, led by Bruce Sherman, is undoubtedly trying to capitalize on the heavy Cuban population in the Miami area. Bringing in the Cuban Babe Ruth is a great way to attempt to get more fan engagement. The franchise has only been to the playoffs three times. First two times (1997 and 2003), they won it all. In 2020, they were swept in the NLDS. They're most likely offering him a ridiculous amount of money to come to a team with a losing history. Knowing the Marlins are willing to hand out stupid money, would you blame La Piña for taking one last ridiculous payday?

Think about it. He's got two rings and made a ton of money. He can safely retire very comfortably. The lure to come back for another year or two would definitely be about money. The Marlins aren't a real threat in the next couple of seasons to do anything, but are willing to pay me like I'm still a star? Plus, I'm closer to my home country with all my family and friends? Sign me up!

This is where the Astros have to make a decision. Bring Yuli back for another year or move on. If he follows through with his last four years, this should be a bounce back year. Since 2016, his first year in Houston and MLB, he's hit .262, .299, .291, .298, .232 (pandemic shortened season), .319, and .242 last season. The man is a professional hitter. He knows how to work an at-bat and can drive pitchers nuts. His defense isn't bad either. He's a more than capable first baseman.

This won't win me any favor, but I think it's time to move on. Yuli will always have a place in my heart because he was a major factor in the Astros' two World Series wins. Last season's title run was even more satisfying since it helped silence the haters. That was the mouthwash that got rid of the stench of the sign stealing scandal. Piña was there through it all.

Now, it's time to start transitioning towards the future. Piña, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr were the only holdovers from the 2017 team. Verlander was one of the guys the Mets backed the Brinks truck up for this offseason. Altuve (32), Bregman (28), and McCullers (29) should be all that's left of that group. While it would've been great to have Verlander (39) back, the emergence of the youth movement in the pitching staff made his loss somewhat expendable. At some point, the nostalgia wears off. Father Time and Mother Nature are both undefeated. If they were to bring Piña back, he should be a part timer transitioning into a hitting coach. Careers come to an end. It's time to start looking at his exit.

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