Gut punch

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall to Thunder in Oklahoma City 113-92

This is one of those games you try to forget about quickly otherwise it'll eat you alive. The Rockets, on a second half of a road back-to-back, looked absolutely gassed and lethargic against a really good Oklahoma City Thunder team. Defensively, they were lethargic (114.8 defensive rating), allowing 37 points in the first quarter alone. Offensively, they couldn't hit a shot if it was gifted to them on a silver platter (34 for 89 from the field, 11-40 from distance).

This was a bad loss and there's no excusing it. Yes, the Rockets were tired, but it shouldn't be overlooked that the Thunder had also played 4 games in 6 nights.

James Harden's struggles from the field carried over from the Hawks game into tonight as he only scored 17 points on 5 of 17 shooting from the field and 2 of 9 shooting from three-point range. Harden's only made seven field goals in his last six quarters of basketball. He'll likely bounce back Saturday against the Timberwolves, but he was no help for Houston tonight.

Clint Capela also had a rough night, logging only 8 points, 11 rebounds, and 1 block on 3 of 8 shooting from the field. Head coach Mike D'Antoni revealed after the game that Capela is still dealing with a heel issue and may possibly miss Saturday's game in Houston.

In this end, this game did manage to provide a touching tribute to Russell Westbrook as Thunder fans greeted him with applause and 'MVP' chants every chance they could. Westbrook stated after the game how much it meant for him to return and the emotions he felt returning to his former team.

Star of the game: Fittingly, Russell Westbrook was the only Rocket who played well tonight, logging 34 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds, on 14 of 26 shooting from the field and 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line. It was obviously an emotional night for Westbrook, but he handled himself well buzzer to buzzer and tried to keep Houston within striking distance.

Honorable mention: This was tough. I suppose Chris Clemons (14 points in 12 minutes of garbage time on 5-9 shooting from the field and 3 of 6 shooting from deep) was the least bad of the non-Westbrook group? The bottom line is nobody had a particularly positive impact outside of Westbrook tonight. On the second half of a road back-to-back, the Rockets were gassed and it showed.

Key moment: The game was essentially over after the first quarter. The Thunder took a strong 37-21 lead and the Rockets never recovered. Oklahoma City shot 56.0% (14 of 25) from the field and 60.0% (6 of 10) from three-point range and Houston didn't have any energy to defend or hit jumpers. The Rockets shot 38.1% (8 for 21) from the field and 27.3% (3 for 11) from three-point range and the tone was set for the rest of the night.

Up next: The Rockets return to Houston to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston looked much more like themselves

Astros return to form in win over Angels at home

Cristian Javier was impressive Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hoping to avoid spiraling further out of control, the Astros turned the page from their disappointing road trip and the recent stretch of games. They hoped to start this new homestand on a good note, welcoming in the Angels for four games of this eight-game stint at Minute Maid Park.

Houston would get the much-needed win, with their offense coming alive early in the game to put up big innings, which they rode to the victory thanks in part to a great start by Cristian Javier.

Final Score: Astros 8, Angels 2

Astros' Record: 8-10, fifth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Alex Cobb (1-1)

Astros' offense starts clicking early

Houston would grab the early momentum, despite leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. They would get a leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI triple by Myles Straw to jump in front 1-0. They made it a three-run inning, with an RBI by Carlos Correa then a bases-loaded RBI-walk by Yuli Gurriel, though for consecutive innings would leave three runners stranded on base.

Correa drove in another in the bottom of the next inning, getting an RBI single to push the lead to four runs, then would come in on a two-run single by Alex Bregman, who made it 6-0. That set things up nicely for Cristian Javier, who was on the mound trying to take advantage of the opportunity for another start.

Javier has an electric start



Javier was electric over the first three innings, including getting eight of the first nine outs by strikeout while allowing only a walk and double during that span. He would have longer innings in the next two, but in both cases would keep the Angels off the board, finishing in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 98 P.

Houston gets the much-needed win

Meanwhile, Houston's offense kept scoring. They pushed the lead two runs further over the fourth and fifth, getting a run in each with another RBI each for Straw and Bregman. With Javier's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen, and despite allowing a controversial two-run home run to Albert Pujols, of all people, that looked to be a foul ball, got through the inning.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the seventh but would get just one out while hitting a batter and allowing a single before Dusty Baker brought in Brooks Raley to face the heavy left-handed part of the Angels lineup. Raley would get through it, sending things to the seventh-inning stretch with the six-run lead intact.

Raley would get another out before Joe Smith would finish that inning in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly, who has been starved for work lately with no save opportunities, would close things out in the ninth as Houston would start this series off with a win.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday night. Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will be on the mound for the Angels, while Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will look to repeat the success of his last start; an eight-inning shutout performance for the Astros.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome