It's games like this that make buying a lot of stock into the Rockets as serious title contenders difficult. Sure they were on the road and without Russell Westbrook, but Houston still had more than enough talent to defeat this upstart Grizzlies squad.
The Rockets actually started the game with decent intensity, taking a 19-8 lead to in the first 5 minutes. James Harden was rolling (17 points in the first quarter) and Houston was doing just enough to keep a small lead over the Grizzlies. Then, Harden went to the bench, the Rockets completely forgot how to score or defend, and they were completely outmatched by the Grizzlies athleticism (25 transition points allowed).
Outside of Clint Capela, the Rockets had no answer for defending Jonas Valanciunas who ran rough shot over a smaller Rockets team (19 points on 8 of 14 shooting from the field). Houston elected to go small with P.J. Tucker at center which may have been a mistake as not only could they not defend Valencias, they also had no rim protection to defend against the constant lob threat Memphis posed.
JA MORANT x JAREN JACKSON JR... OH MY! 😳✨💥 📺: @NBATV https://t.co/VtXey3nt4x— NBA (@NBA) 1579053244.0
There's no going around it - this was a bad loss for the Rockets. After a resounding 139-109 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Houston, they could not bring the same energy against Memphis. They'll have an opportunity to bounce back in Houston against the Trail Blazers in Houston, but it'll be interesting to see how much gas they have left in the tank (Harden and Tucker each played 38 or more minutes each).
Star of the game: Clint Capela was the only Rocket tonight that had a positive plus/minus (+3). Capela logged 17 points, 16 rebounds, and 2 assists on 6 of 7 shooting from the field and 5 of 5 shooting from the free throw line (Capela has only missed 4 free throws in the past 7 games). The Rockets struggled mightily with Capela on the bench as they ad no answer for Jonas Valanciunas (19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block on 8 of 14 shooting).
Honorable mention: If James Harden hadn't shot as poorly as he did tonight, it's like the Rockets win the game and he receives player of the game. Harden had 40 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 block on 13 of 37 shooting from the field and 5 of 19 shooting from three-point range. Harden actually started the game shooting the ball lights out (17 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from three-point range).
Key moment: The Rockets had actually took a commanding lead over the Grizzlies out of the gate (19-8 lead by the 7:32 of the first quarter). Things slowly snowballed from there in the Grizzlies direction as they took a 59-47 lead by the 6:17 of the second quarter. Harden was off, the Rockets couldn't score or defend in the minutes that he was on the bench, and Ja Morant took over the game.
Up next: The Rockets return to Houston to play the Portland Trail Blazers at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Houston Astros were in need of some serious help in the bullpen with Phil Maton, Hector Neris, and Ryne Stanek likely leaving this year in free agency.
The Houston Astros have acquired RHP Dylan Coleman from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RHP Carlos Mateo. pic.twitter.com/hDYuBLn2Kv
— Houston Astros (@astros) December 6, 2023
While some fans were getting concerned about the quiet offseason, the club has made two moves this week to get the ball rolling.
First the team signed Victor Caratini to be the backup catcher, and now they have added some relief pitching.
The Astros traded pitching prospect Carlos Mateo to the Royals for RHP pitcher Dylan Coleman.
Coleman appeared in 96 games in the past three seasons for KC, including 68 games in 2022 and 23 games last season. He has a career 3.88 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He’s fastball (95 mph), slider (81) and cutter (90) and walked 57 batters and struck out 99 in 92 2/3 innings.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) December 6, 2023
Coleman is under club control for the next several years, and made just over $700,000 in 2022. With the Astros right up against the tax threshold, this is a good way to add to the bullpen without having to hand out a large contract.
The Royals had a tough roster decision to make with Coleman, and the Astros made the decision easy for them by making the trade.
Something to note
There's a reason Kansas City wasn't determined to protect Coleman from the Rule 5 Draft. Despite his decent numbers over the last three seasons, 2023 was a rough year for him, posting an 8.84 ERA over 23 games.
In fact, Coleman pitched more innings (30.2) for the Royals AAA team than he did for the big league club (18.1) in 2023.
Hopefully, the Astros can get him back on track this season with some help from their highly touted player development program.
You can watch some of his 2022 highlights above.