Rockets escape Pelicans, 126-123

Three Pointers from Rockets win over New Orleans

Three Pointers from Rockets win over New Orleans

The winless Houston Rockets hosted the winless New Orleans Pelicans Saturday night. Poor shooting and continued early season chemistry issues contributed to a closer game than it should have been. Russell Westbrook heroics late in the fourth would ice the Pelicans, however and the Rockets secured their first win of the 2019-2020 season

Slow start from Harden

A winless New Orleans team maintained their reputation as a pesky out against the Rockets once again Saturday night. James Harden did very little to help Houston pull away to start the contest, shooting 1-10 from beyond the arc in the first half. Harden would finish with 29 points, but 2-18 from three on the evening can be looked at as a major reason why the Pelicans were able to remain in the game for so long.

Westbrook makes history

Westbrook unleashed himself upon a hapless Pelicans team to the tune of 28 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds. In his second consecutive triple double as a Rocket, Westbrook passed Magic Johnson for the second most triple-doubles in NBA history.

Chemistry still developing

The Rockets on paper are clearly the superior team, but basketball is a finesse sport that is predicated on repetition and timing. Houston's main ball handlers are clearly still developing this with their new teammates as James Harden and Westbrook combined for 12 turnovers tonight.

Rockets Player of the Night

Russell Westbrook: 28 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds, 1 steal

Pelicans Player of the Night

Brandon Ingram: 35 points, 5 assists, 15 rebounds

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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