A normal blowout

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets pummel short-handed Warriors in San Francisco 135-105

When the Rockets traded Clint Capela and their 2020 first round pick for Robert Covington at the trade deadline, nights like this is what they envisioned. Defensively, they have versatility to switch effectively and the quickness to double and recover when necessary. Offensively, they have a spaced floor for James Harden and Russell Westbrook to attack the rim uninhibited and make defenders pay with three-point shooting for doubling. To be fair, this was a pretty weak opponent, but the execution and effort from Houston was there in a way that could lead them to success against better opponents.

The Rockets were on fire from three-point range in the first quarter and that continued on for the rest of the night (25 of 49 from three-point range - 51.0%). The open looks they were getting from normal drive and kicks stood out and probably highlighted why Golden State is in the position they are this season.

New additions Robert Covington and Jeff Green both looked pretty good tonight, combining for 37 points and 9 rebounds on 13 of 20 shooting from the field and 9 of 15 shooting from three-point range. It's just one game, but it looks like Green will take the backup center role away from Thabo Sefolosha, with Sefolosha and DeMarre Carroll likely on the edges of the rotation. There's still plenty of time to get a clearer picture though. Overall, Houston's pivot and commitment to micro-ball at the trade deadline seems to be paying of.

Star of the game: James Harden was a team-high +32 for the Rockets in addition to having 29 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. He didn't shoot the ball well is (6 of 16 from the field and 3 of 12 from three-point range), but because he got to the line a lot (14 of 15 from the charity stripe) he managed to have a true shooting percentage of 64.2%, giving him the edge over Russell Westbrook for tonight.

Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook continued his pre-All-Star-break hot stretch tonight, tallying 21 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, and a steal on 10 of 20 shooting from the field and 1 of 2 shooting from three-point range. He was fast, he was springy, and he was effective at poking holes in an already very weak Warriors' defense.

Key moment: The Rockets outscored the Warriors 38 to 17 in the first quarter and it was pretty much over from there. Houston shot a blistering 8 for 12 from three-point range while Golden State shot a measly 0 for 6. They looked like a team that was foaming at the mouth for the All-Star break to be over. James Harden looked as sharp as he's ever been this season on both ends (11 points, 5 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal), Russell Westbrook carried his pre-break momentum into the game (9 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 4 of 9 shooting from the field), and the Rockets were getting and hitting open shots from all over the floor.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Utah on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. to play the Jazz.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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