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 loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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