Ugly, but a win is a win

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets escape with narrow victory over Wizards 159-158

In a game that made the history books for several different reasons, the Houston Rockets held on to barely defeat the Washington Wizards 159-158. The game will go down in the record books for having the third-most points scored in regulation in NBA history. From the start of this helter-skelter matchup, it became apparent that defense was optional and scoring was not. Neither team could seemingly string together two stops in a row which made for some exciting, but chaotic basketball.

For the Rockets, it was James Harden leading the charge, 59 points in all. Harden had struggled with his shooting through the first three games, but caught his rhythm tonight, hitting 6 of his 14 attempted three-pointers. For the Wizards, Bradley Beal could not seem to buy a miss even after Houston threw multiple looks and bodies at him. Beal managed to finish the game with 46 points on a staggering 91.0% true shooting.

The Rockets have a lot to clean up defensively, but through 4 games, it's clear they have an offensive identity that has works. For the fourth straight game, Houston also outrebounded their opponent - something they struggled mightily to do last season. This was ugly, but as the Rockets learned last season, a win is a win and this one counts just as much. Houston will be grateful they got this one later in the season as they joky for positioning in the unforgiving Western Conference.

Star of the game: James Harden seemed to shake away his shooting struggles Wednesday night with a 59-point performance on a scorching 73.9% true shooting. Though his defense left much to be desired, Harden refused to let the game get out of reach for Houston and ultimately won it by getting fouled on the last possession. He also seemingly intentionally missed his last free throw of the game in order to let the clock run out and secure the victory for the Rockets.

Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook. Westbrook started the game dishing the ball to his teammates at a ridiculous rate, snagging 10 assists through the first quarter and a half of basketball. His consistent rim penetration was also a huge factor in the Rockets reclaiming the lead in the 4th quarter. Westbrook ended the game with 17 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds 2 steals, and 2 block. He was forceful, consistent, and has thus far proved to be every bit the valued addition he was lauded to be this offseason.

Key moment: While it may have been a play brushed off by many, Russell Westbrook finding James Harden cutting backdoor for the dunk is a sign of significant progress for the two. Harden, not known for cutting baseline, did so willingly in this instant and a few other instances this season and the same has been true for Westbrook. The glimmers of chemistry between Harden and Westbrook are becoming smoother and more frequent and for many who worried about Houston's floor spacing this summer, this is an encouraging sign.

Up next: Houston travels to Brooklyn on Friday, November 1st at 6:00 p.m. to face off against the Nets.

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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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