Not enough energy

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall to the Suns 127-91

On Friday night, the Rockets were a team on the second half of a road back-to-back without their star point guard and they certainly looked like it. Defensively, the Rockets weren't switching and communicating with the same level of effort they did the night prior in Los Angeles. Offensively, Houston clearly had tired legs as they struggled to make jump shots (11 of 48 from three-point range - 23%) or get out in transition and capitalize on the speed advantage you get when playing small

While the Rockets struggled the make shots (29 of 85 from the field - 34%), the Suns could not miss. Kelly Oubre Jr. absolutely destroyed the Rockets scoring 39 points on a ridiculous 14 of 19 shooting from the field, 7 of 9 shooting from deep, and 4 of 4 shooting from the free throw line. Devin Booker got it going early in the first quarter (18 points, 6 of 8 shooting from the field) and finished with 33 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block on 10 of 18 shooting from the field, 4 of 8 shooting from three-point range, and 9 of 9 shooting from the charity stripe.

This is the kind of game you want to just flush down the drain and move on. Houston has a couple of tough opponents coming up so it's a good thing Mike D'Antoni and James Harden decided to pack it in early in the 3rd quarter. Houston rarely does this, but it became so patently obvious that they weren't going to climb back into this game.

Star of the game: James Harden finished the game with 32 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal on 9 of 19 shooting from the field, 5 of 10 shooting from three-point range, and 9 of 10 shooting from the free throw line. While this loss stings for the Rockets, it's encouraging that Harden was able to get some momentum going before these next stretch of games (Utah on Sunday and Boston on Tuesday).

Honorable mention: Nobody besides Harden played particularly well tonight, but I suppose Ben McLemore played the least bad? McLemore had 13 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the field and 2 of 2 shooting from the free throw line. McLemore couldn't bail Houston out from beyond the arc (1 of 5 shooting), but he was one of only three players who scored in double digits tonight.

Key moment: The only moment where it looked like the Rockets might have a chance was when James Harden had his second quarter scoring run and brought the lead down the single digits. In the second quarter, Harden scored 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 shooting from behind the arc. Houston was only trailing 65-55 by the end of the first half. However, once Phoenix decided to trap double-team James Harden, the Rockets weren't able to make open three-pointers and as a result didn't capitalize on the run.

Up next: The Rockets return to Houston to play the Utah Jazz at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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Jose Urquidy is a surprising choice to start Game 2. Photo by Getty Images.

After a long and tumultuous season, the Houston Astros made it to their 3rd World Series in five years and will take on the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night.

Houston had the better overall regular season record, so games 1 & 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park while games 3-5 will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta.

(If necessary, the final two contests will be played back at Minute Maid Park).

The Braves got this far by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS 3-1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games (4-2).

Atlanta prevailed with timely hitting from guys like Joc Pederson, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario performing like an MVP this postseason.

The Braves received solid pitching outings from guys like Ian Anderson, Max Fried and former Astro Charlie Morton.

Atlanta used clutch hitting and solid pitching to make to their first World Series since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros made it back to the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1 and out-slugged the Red Sox four games to two.

According to Fox Bet, the Astros are favored at -154 to win the World Series. This is certainly an obtainable goal for Houston's team as they have the experience, hitting and pitching to compete with anyone.

Can Houston's bats stay hot?

The most intriguing matchup this series will be the Astros' bats facing off against this Braves pitching staff. On paper, Houston's lineup seems to be favored for their depth. Jose Altuve at the top of the batting order is always a threat to get on base, and behind him are a plethora of hitters who can drive in multiple runs.

The two best bats this postseason thus far for the Astros are ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 batting average) and this year's American League batting title champion Yuli Gurriel (.455 batting average). The Cuban natives have lit up pitching and will look to continue their torrid hitting in the World Series.

Other Astros who could be impactful at the plate against the Braves include Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. All three of their batting average's in the .200's respectfully and could come up big at any time.

This lineup is so deep, Atlanta's pitchers won't receive many breaks, if at all this series.

Will the pitching step up again?

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. for the World Series certainly isn't ideal, but not impossible to overcome as proven in the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Framber Valdez pitched the best game of his career when he threw 8 innings and surrendered only one run in Game 3, while Luis Garcia had his best start of the postseason and received the Game 6 win. Both of these pitchers have stepped up in McCullers' absence and will have a huge impact on the series. Valdez is set to start Game 1 on Tuesday night.

If Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke can also pitch deeper into games, there will be less stress on the bullpen and give the Astros a better chance to stay in games. And we won't have to wait long to see Urquidy, as he will start Game 2, according to Astros manager Dusty Baker.

In an ideal scenario, the Astros' starting pitchers should throw six innings of work and let Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly closeout games as they have all season.

Of course this is the best-case scenario, which doesn't always happen, but other arms can be used to bridge the gaps that include Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia in short relief outings and Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi can pitch multiple innings if needed.

Even if a starter has a clunker of a start, this bullpen has done a great job of keeping things close and setting up the Astros for success.

Will this be Carlos Correa's "Last Dance" with Astros?

One can only imagine what is going on in Carlos Correa's mind right now. No one is implying that the free agent to be will not be focused this series, but it's hard to fathom this upcoming offseason isn't a distraction right now.

The 27-year-old shortstop is set to receive multiple offers from different teams and land one of the richest contracts once this season concludes.

If this truly is his final season with the Astros, why not go out on top and win one more title before moving on?

Let's hope this "Last Dance" for Correa is a slow one, so we can all enjoy it a little longer.

Will Dusty's experience prove to be a difference-maker?

Dusty Baker's experience could be beneficial for Houston's chances of hoisting another trophy as he has managed teams in parts of 24 seasons.

He's the only skipper to ever lead five franchises to the postseason and obtain more than 2,000 career victories.

This is the second time he as taken a club to the World Series. He took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the Fall Classic but lost to the Angels in seven games.

It's safe to assume the 72-year-old seems eager to win his first championship as a manager to cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Final projection

As previously mentioned, the Astros are favored to win this series. If Houston can continue to stay hot at the plate, receive solid outings from their pitchers and just play Astros baseball, there is a good chance this city will have yet another Commissioner's Trophy in their display case.

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