Rock bottom

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets lose to Lakers in Houston 124-115

The Rockets have had a number of must-win games this season, but this was one was at the top of the list. Having had two team "discussions" going into tonight, Houston's team morale going into this one was questionable at best. A win over the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers could have certainly helped spark some momentum that they desperately need right now.

Houston actually started this game the appropriate fear, but that seemed to dissipate as the game went along, particularly in the third quarter where things went completely arry for the Rockets. In addition to poor shooting (1 of 11 from three-point range), the Rockets turned the ball over 6 times, made silly fouls to compound their mistakes, and could not seem to defend the Lakers in transition.

"We just didn't make plays," said Mike D'Antoni after the game. "Then we turned it over a couple times, they got out on the break. We ran them the first half and they upped their pace and ran us the second half."

The Rockets had as many turnovers (20) as assists tonight. This is the worst team to do that against as the Lakers are 10-0 when forcing 20+ turnovers this season.

There's little doubt that this was a make-or-break game for the Rockets given that they lost 3 out of their last 4 before tonight, but it is up to them on if they'll actually break. Publicly, they've kept a brave face, but talk is cheap. There needs to be concrete improvement they can to point to and aside from the first 24 minutes of tonight's game, that's been hard to find.

Star of the game: Despite the poor team play, Russell Westbrook has held his own as of late. Tonight, Westbrook had 35 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals on 15 of 23 shooting from the field. Westbrook has had at least 30 points and 5 assists in each of the Rockets' last four games.

Honorable mention: His defense wasn't great tonight, but James Harden did find a way to also fill the stat sheet in Houston's loss. Harden was dealing with an aggressive Lakers trap all night, but still managed to get 34 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 1 block on 60.9% true shooting tonight. Again, I'm sure Harden himself wouldn't put this among his proudest performances however.

Key moment: The Rockets were playing really great in the first half on both ends. James Harden was deferring because of Los Angeles' traps, Russell Westbrook was rolling (22 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field), and Clint Capela was playing very well defensively (9 rebounds, 3 blocks, and a +/- of +9). Things completely for turned for Houston in the third quarter, however. Technical fouls were flying, offensive fouls were being drawn on both ends, and the Rockets lost the lead in the chaos of the opening minutes. Offensively, the Rockets were atrocious in the third quarter (17 points scored on 1 of 11 shooting from three-point range) and defensively, the Lakers ran the ball down Houston's throat.

Up next: The Rockets play the Oklahoma City Thunder in Houston at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome