Rock Bottom

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets get trounced in Miami 129-100

There is nothing redeemable about this game for Houston. Absolutely nothing.

The best course of action after an embarrassing loss like this is to put your head down and pray you win the next one because that's the only way to cleanse your aura. In possibly one of the more humiliating losses in franchise history, the Rockets went to Miami, dropped a complete dud, and made a mockery of the word 'defense' in the process.

The story of the game will forever be the first quarter, where the Rockets allowed the Heat to score 46 seemingly unimpeded points and only put up 14 themselves. Houston allowed Miami to get a series of backdoor cuts, uncontested three-pointers, and transition opportunities. The onslaught felt endless and it forced Mike D'Antoni to make some drastic substitutions early in the game after introducing his new starting lineup, featuring Eric Gordon at small forward.

While Houston did a much better job at containing the Heat in quarters 2, 3, and 4 (83 points allowed combined), it was already too late. The first quarter deficit was just too much to climb back from and the Rockets could never get their offense rolling. The shooting struggles continued on for Houston as they a putrid 29% (14 of 48) from 3-point range while the Heat were shooting at a combined Stephen-Curry-like clip of 44% (18 of 41).

It's unclear whether or not the shooting struggles and opponent shooting percentage will balance out for the Rockets, but that's beside the point for Houston at the moment. Their defense in transition and off the ball needs to get to a passable level before they begin to point the finger at shooting disparities.

Star of the game: While he wasn't sharp defensively, especially off the ball, James Harden's scoring and drives to the basket are the only reason Houston didn't lose by 60. Harden logged 29 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 26 minutes. This included 14 trips to the free throw line where he was a perfect 14 of 14. Due to his poor effort defensively, Harden finished the game a -17.

Honorable mention: While he's not the star of the game, Chris Clemons was the only Rocket you could say with a healthy conscience played well. Clemons posted 14 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block on 4 of 9 shooting from 3-point range. Clemons was a part of the stretch that helped get the Rockets from "unwatchable" to "simply embarrassing" distance. D'Antoni said he'd been trying to find spots to play Clemons and this game may have earned him time on Monday against the Grizzlies.

Key moment: Houston's first quarter was one for the books, literally. The Rockets allowed the Heat to score second most points in franchise opening quarter history and the 32-point differential was the third-largest deficit posted in NBA history after the 1st quarter. Houston allowed 18 points in the paint, 6 second chance opportunities, and turned the ball over 5 times that led to 8 fast break points. It was truly stunning how bad they looked defensively.

Up next: Houston travels to Memphis on Monday at 7:00 p.m. to take on the Grizzlies.

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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.

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