Cutting it close

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets escape Atlanta with narrow 122-115 victory

Photo by Getty Images

Even without Russell Westbrook and James Harden shooting as badly as he did (9 of 34 from the field), Houston's effort from the end of the second quarter onwards was truly dissapointing. This was a game the Rockets should have won going away, but they allowed Atlanta to climb back into it and make it close at the end.

By halftime, it really looked like the Rockets were going to repeat their last performance against the Hawks. Harden was rolling (29 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds) and the Rockets had a strong 77-62 lead.

Then the Rockets went on to miss a barrage of three-pointers (5 of 27 from three-point range) and fell off a cliff defensively, giving Atlanta a window to make this game close.

It also didn't help that Houston didn't have an answer for Trae Young, who had a career night tallying 42 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, and 1 block on 55.4% true shooting.

Star of the game: Clint Capela was a matchup nightmare for Atlanta all night. The Hawks had no answer for Capela sprinting down the court and being an engaged lob threat. Capela ended the game with 22 points, 22 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals on 9 of 14 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 shooting from the free throw line.

Honorable mention: Normally James Harden logging 41 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals would be more than enough to earn him star of the night. The problem was that did all this on 9 of 34 shooting from the field and 4 of 20 shooting from three-point range. Harden had 22 points in the first quarter on good efficiency, but shot 3 or 24 shooting from quarters two through four.

Key moment: After taking a 23-point lead in the second quarter, the Rockets completely let go of the rope in the third quarter.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Oklahoma City on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. to play Thunder in what will be an emotional homecoming for star guard Russell Westbrook.


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Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans lost again as their road game ineptitude continues. Former Texans stars DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt helped the Cardinals to the 31-5 victory.

1. The lack of talent is getting exposed earlier and earlier each week. The Texans have seen games slip away faster and faster from them each week. The team is overmatched almost everywhere.

2. Penalties remain a problem for the Texans. It seems like clockwork the team gets an illegal motion or illegal formation each week. Jordan Akins torpedoed a drive with a chop block. Max Scharping erased a positive play with a hold.

3. Davis Mills had some solid moments, but again, this team isn't good. It is hard to assess Mills with this team. He's making quicker decisions but he doesn't have the time or the players to make big plays.

4. The offensive line stinks. The interior of the line is still a mess and with Laremy Tunsil down the edges find themselves shaky as well. The running backs don't block well. The blocking tight ends don't block well. It is bad football in what was supposed to be a much-improved unit.

5. Desmond King was the best returner in the preseason. The team elected to give Andre Roberts an opportunity for a few games, but with his departure, the duties went to King. King is the most successful returner the Texans have had in a long while. Yes, it is that clear after just one game.

6. Max Scharping was benched in favor of Justin McCray. McCray produced similar levels of success. Scharping was benched last year for a journey-man veteran as well. The former second-round pick isn't getting it done.

7. Speaking of former second-round picks, Lonnie Johnson had an interception. That was the highlight of his day. Otherwise, Johnson frequently has me asking "what is Lonnie Johnson doing?" The former second-round pick at cornerback has been less than impressive at safety. Johnson seems to frequently be out of position or making the wrong choice in coverage.

8. DeAndre Hopkins had a solid day against the team that traded him away. Hopkins hauled in seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. After he scored, Hopkins looked to bring his hands together and mimic a prayer motion. I don't anticipate this was a nod to Arian Foster but perhaps could this have been about Jack Easterby?

9. The Texans had some sacks, but little of that action came when the game was close. Jonathan Greenard added two sacks to his total. The success Greenard is having is frustrating when you consider he couldn't get on the field last season. Charles Omenihu returned to action and had some pressures for the defense.

10. During the game reports surfaced that the Panthers might be interested in trading for Deshaun Watson. It was also reported by the Houston Chronicle Watson had vetoed a trade to Philadelphia, so the Eagles will not be involved in the Watson sweepstakes. The Panthers can only trade two first-round picks. The Miami Dolphins have three first-round picks they can trade for Deshaun Watson.

11. The Texans decided on a "culture" head coach in David Culley. His team has looked lifeless on the road. While the Texans took their beating, the Lions gave it their all against a good Rams team. Detroit is winless, but they play harder and better than the Texans. It grows clearer each week "culture" is meaningless if the team can't win.

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