Statement win.

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets with huge win against Clippers in Los Angeles

It's one win, but sometimes that's all it takes to make a statement. Houston entered Staples Center Thursday night with the need for a big win. Though they were 7-3 in their last 10 games, but the Rockets haven't exactly racked up convincing wins to say to least. This was their chance; the stage was big and they took advantage of it.

The impact that Russell Westbrook can have on his best nights really stood out in this game. Westbrook isn't going to be a steady ship night in and night out - that's not the player he is. However, his peaks as a player are so tantalizing that it's easy to understand why a team would trade as much as Houston did to acquire someone like him. Chris Paul, even in his best nights last season, could not provide Houston with what Westbrook did tonight. Even as a skeptic of the trade, it's only fair to give Westbrook this.

All season the Rockets have exhibited signs of a tier two title contender; a title contender that needs x, y, and z to go right to truly win at the highest levels. This is the kind of win that shows you they have the ability to reach a tier one contender, but it will require more nights like this and consistency on defense to earn that status. This was a nice step in the right direction though.

For a player like Danuel House to perform at the level he did on a night like this is huge. House had missed the prior two games against the Clippers due to injury and this is significant because the Clippers are the ultimate proving ground game for a player like him on this specific team. The Rockets are going to ask him to guard players like Paul George and occasionally Kawhi Leonard, and it was encouraging to see him tread water.

The Rockets still have plenty of moments of inconsistency - notably, the entire first half. However, the fact that they can have stretches like they had in the 3rd quarter are why it's hard to completely dismiss Houston as a bonafide title contender. This win obviously doesn't paint to full picture for Houston as a team, but it could be a nice point to turn the corner if they choose to do so.

Star of the game: This wasn't Russell Westbrook's most efficient game as a Rocket, but it was definitely his best considering the opponent and the moments in the game where he got most of his points. All season, the Rockets have gone into droughts when James Harden has sat on the bench and not only did that not happen tonight, Westbrook was instrumental in getting Houston their first lead of the game. Westbrook logged 40 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal tonight on 54.5% true shooting. He was hitting shots, getting to the rim in transition and in the halfcourt, and overall, led a tight ship.

Honorable mention: James Harden wasn't as aggressive as he normally was in the first three quarters (16 points, 9 assists, and 5 turnovers), but he more made up for that in the fourth quarter (12 points on 3 of 5 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from three-point range). Harden finished the game with 28 points, 10 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound, and 1 block on 8 of 16 shooting from the field and 5 of 11 shooting from three-point range.

Key moment: Houston won this game in the third quarter, outscoring the Clippers 36 to 18. Westbrook led the charge (11 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists) and the Rockets followed roaring back from their 15-point halftime deficit in monsterous fashion.

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

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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