The Rockets opened their season with a crushing 117-111 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall in opener to Bucks 117-111

It was exciting, it was promising, but ultimately it was unfruitful as James Harden and the Houston Rockets fell to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks for the third straight time in two seasons Thursday night in their home opener. What was particularly disappointing on Houston's part is they held a commanding near-double digit lead over the Bucks for most of the night before being outscored 39-24 in the fourth quarter. The Bucks' unique defensive strategy managed to stifle James Harden again, limiting him to 19 points on 2 of 13 shooting from the field.

"I didn't play well offensively tonight," Harden said after the game. "This one's on me. I wasn't aggressive enough."

The Rockets as a whole, struggled mightily from behind the arc, only making 5 of their second half 27 three-point attempts. Eric Gordon had a particularly poor night, missing all six of his fourth quarter three-point attempts.

"You got to make shots to beat teams like that," head coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They made the big ones. We didn't."

Star of the game: Russell Westbrook, despite the loss, showed the kind of energy and athleticism he could provide to Houston, pulling in 24 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals on 54.9% true shooting. Whether it was a fast break, and-one-layup or dish outs to Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker in the corners after out-running Giannis Antetokounmpo on the break, Westbrook was an absolute blur. His true command of the game came through with the second unit, where Westbrook ran rough-shot on the Bucks at seemingly a million miles per hour. It's completely antithetical to the slow, calculated way James Harden and the Rockets have run things in recent years, but Westbrook showed tonight the kind of unnerving chaos and variance he can bring to Houston's offense.

Honorable mention: P.J. Tucker, steady as always, provided some quality shooting for Houston on a night where they badly needed it, scoring 17 points on 5 of 8 three-point shooting. Tucker also grabbed seven rebounds and was asked to guard everything from Giannis Antetokounmpo on the break to Brook Lopez in the post.

Key moment: In the midst of fighting off Milwaukee's second half run, James Harden and Russell Westbrook showed a flash of their potential possibilities as a duo, in an exciting transition lob sequence. This pairing is still very much clunky, but in this moment (and a select few other ones tonight), Harden and Westbrook showed the kind of dynamism they could be with some sacrifice from both players.

Houston plays their second game of the season Saturday, October 26th against the New Orleans Pelicans.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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