The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets let one slip against the Kings 119-118

On Saturday, Las Vegas had the Rockets favored to beat the Suns by 11 points. They won by 6. Tonight, the closing odds had Houston favored to win by 12. They lost by 1.

The story for this game will obviously be the crazy final few possessions of the game and specifically the last one where Nemanja Bjelica hit a walk-off-three-pointer to give Sacramento the victory. However, there's a worrisome pattern emerging about this Rockets team in that they may very well be a good team that goes on to win 50 or more games, but the jury is still out as to whether they can be the bonafide title contener that they were just two seasons ago. The Rockets should not have been in a one-possession game with the Sacramento Kings (who were coming off a back to back) in to end the game in Houston to begin with. In a year where Houston's defense needs to be at least top ten, if not top five to truly compete with the best of the NBA, they've trended average (15th in the NBA).

"We didn't challenge ourselves," Russell Westbrook said after the game. "It's not about them. We're playing for a bigger goal."

Again, it's more likely than not that the Rockets will be a very good team this season. The problem is with teams like the Lakers and Bucks (both 21-3), very good isn't good enough. We'll see if Houston turns it around defensively, but until then, it's very possible that this team has a ceiling. Of course, until we see the Rockets' fully healthy roster at the end of the season, all of this is to be determined.

Star of the game: It's unfortunate for Houston that Russell Westbrook's best game as a Rocket came in this loss, but it doesn't diminish how well he's played as of late. Westbrook had 34 points, 8 assists, 3 rebonds, and 2 steals on 13 of 17 shooting from the field, 2 of 4 shooting from three-point range, and 6 of 7 shooting from the free throw line. He was simply brilliant tonight and nearly had the game winning layup before Nemanja Bjelica delivered Houston a heartbreaker.

Honorable mention: This was the furthest thing from James Harden's best game this season, but he did manage to log 27 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals on 8 of 19 shooting from the field and 8 of 8 shooting from the free throw line. Harden's just looked a step off as of late (16 of 46 from the field and 6 of 27 from three-point range these past two games). It could be that seemingly Houston's entire locker room is suffering from a bad illness, but without an admission from Harden (which he won't give), we'll never know for sure.

Key moment: It may come off as unsophisticated to put the final possession of the game here, but it perfectly illustrates why it's hard to buy Houston as a tier one title contender right now - their defense. Here, the Rockets, specifically P.J. Tucker surprisingly, allowed a wide-open three-pointer from Nemanja Bjelica to end a game they should have won by double digits in the first place. Houston will continue to tell you that they have high aspirations this year (and they do), but if they continue to be just average as a defensive team, it's hard to buy.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

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Houston gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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