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

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 Astros (33-39, second in the AL West) vs. Chicago White Sox (19-54, fifth in the AL Central)

Chicago; Tuesday, 8:10 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Framber Valdez (5-4, 3.99 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 51 strikeouts); White Sox: Jonathan Cannon (0-1, 4.56 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 24 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -209, White Sox +173; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Chicago White Sox host the Houston Astros on Tuesday to start a three-game series.

Chicago has a 12-23 record in home games and a 19-54 record overall. The White Sox have gone 6-14 in games decided by one run.

Houston has a 33-39 record overall and a 14-20 record in road games. Astros hitters have a collective .418 slugging percentage to rank third in the AL.

The teams meet Tuesday for the first time this season.

TOP PERFORMERS: Gavin Sheets has 14 doubles, a triple and seven home runs while hitting .233 for the White Sox. Andrew Vaughn is 15-for-43 with a double and four home runs over the past 10 games.

Yordan Alvarez has 16 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs for the Astros. Jose Altuve is 14-for-40 with two doubles and two home runs over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: White Sox: 4-6, .247 batting average, 3.88 ERA, outscored by three runs

Astros: 5-5, .257 batting average, 3.78 ERA, outscored opponents by five runs

INJURIES: White Sox: Max Stassi: 60-Day IL (hip), Dominic Leone: 60-Day IL (right elbow), Dominic Fletcher: 10-Day IL (shoulder), Mike Clevinger: 15-Day IL (elbow), Eloy Jimenez: 10-Day IL (hamstring), Yoan Moncada: 60-Day IL (abductor), Jimmy Lambert: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Matt Foster: 60-Day IL (elbow), Jesse Scholtens: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Cristian Javier: 60-Day IL (forearm), Justin Verlander: day-to-day (neck), Kyle Tucker: 10-Day IL (shin), Jose Urquidy: 60-Day IL (forearm), Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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