Gut-punch

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets narrowly lose to Jazz in Houston 114-113

If this the definition of a heartbreaking loss, I don't know what is.

The Rockets legitimately looked like a top tier contender with the way they competed with Utah in the first half. Russell Westbrook and James Harden both took advantage of a spaced floor by getting to the rim at will, Houston's rotations on switches looked much crisper, and shots were falling (23 for 46 from the field).

The second half is where things fell apart. The Rockets got out-rebounded 26 to 20, their defense fell apart at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter, and Houston couldn't hit a three-pointer for long stretches of the second half. On the whole, however, the Rockets competed pretty hard against a really good Western Conference team, but lost. The Jazz just played better in the moments that mattered.

Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker gave the Rockets gave the Rockets a chance with two late three-pointers, but Bojan Bogdanovic hit a really hard three-pointer over two outstretched defenders in less than 1.6 seconds. Houston played a really good team, played hard, and showed some encouraging signs defensively, but they lost on a tough game winner. Sometimes it can really be that simple.

Star of the game: The Rockets struggled offensively in the second half, but it was to no fault of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook logged 39 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal on 18 of 33 shooting from the field and 1 of 2 shooting from three-point range. Like the Lakers game, Westbrook attacked straight one-on-one coverages brilliantly with a spaced floor. The Jazz, rather smartly, placed Rudy Gobert on Westbrook in the first quarter. After the first timeout, the Rockets used Westbrook as a screener as a decent counter.

Honorable mention: It'll go unnoticed, but James Harden actually finished this game with a triple double, logging 28 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal on 11 of 23 shooting from the field. Harden was horrible from three-point range, missing 11 of 13 from deep.

Key moment: The Rockets lost this game midway through the fourth quarter, specifically the 5:56 mark where the Jazz went on a 9-0 run to give them a 107-100 lead at the 3:00 mark. Houston recovered from that and nearly won the game off a P.J. Tucker buzzer beater, but having to recover from that put them behind the 8-ball.

Up next: The Rockets play the Boston Celtics in Houston at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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