Low energy game

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets get pummeled by Mavericks 137-123

"It's one of those games where you have to force yourselves to have the juice to start," said Mike D'Antoni after the game. "We were flat and they weren't. They punched us good and we fell all the way back and a lot of times when you do that, you run out of gas."

You can find reasons for why the Rockets didn't have it tonight - 2:30 p.m. start time, coming off an emotional game in Los Angeles a couple days prior, etc... However for a team that's trying to win a championship this season, all of these reasons would qualify as excuses. The Mavericks are a young, good team that's on the rise, but considering Houston's dry spell against contenders going into this game, this one was a must-win. The Rockets have now lost three games in a row and have only two wins against teams above a .500 winning percentage.

"We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do (offensively) from the beginning of the game," said James Harden. "When you give a team like that comfort and the ability to do whatever they want, they gain confidence and that's what they did."

Luka Doncic continued his MVP-worthy play against the Rockets, tallying 41 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 blocked shot. P.J. Tucker did as good as job as you can against Doncic, but to no avail. Kristaps Porzingis also did a fantastic job at detering drives for Houston and defending at the rim. To go along with the defense, Porzingis logged 23 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block on 9 of 17 shooting from the field and 2 of 5 shooting from three-point range.

"Listen, Porzingis this whole week has been phenomenal," said Maverick head coach Rick Carlisle. "His all-around game, his defensive rim protection, rebounding outlet game, and then he's backing it up with a great offensive game."

All of the attention will be on the shooting disparity (Houston shot 10 of 44 from three-point range and Dallas shot 17 of 44) and even D'Antoni alluded to it, but there were a ton of things defensively Houston could have done to win this game.

"We got a lot of work to do, but I've seen flashes of it being good," said D'Antoni about Houston's defense. "Tonight wasn't one of them. It's just one of those things where we got a little skid going and we have to right the ship and get back."

Star of the game: Despite the 3-game winning streak, Clint Capela continued on with his slate of awesome stat-lines. Capela logged 21 points and 22 rebounds on 10 of 16 shooting. A big reason for Houston's run were Capela's follow-up dunks off of Russell Westbrook missed layups in transition.

Honorable mention: P.J. Tucker was particularly great defensively to end the third quarter and to start the fourth quarter. Tucker's physical defense on the low-block is partially the reason Houston was able to come back to make it a 5-point game in the fourth quarter. Tucker tallied 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block on 7 of 10 shooting from the field and 2 of 5 shooting from three-point range.

Key moment: Houston's first quarter put them in a hole that felt insurmountable. They allowed 45 points and only countered with 29. They made mini-runs sporadically throughout the game, but the Rockets were never able to fully recover after that.

"Our defensive was not where it needed it to be from the beginning of the game," said P.J. Tucker. "We knew they were one of the best first half teams in the league. We had to assert ourselves early and we didn't."

Up next: The Rockets continue their homestand and play the Miami Heat at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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