THE PALLILOG

Tennessee Titans capitalize on pathetic Texans culture

The Titans claimed Zach Cunningham off waivers. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Another exciting Texans home game Sunday approaches! The 2-10 laughingstock plays host to 4-8 Seattle. The Seahawks are one loss from clinching their first losing season since 2011, the last season they drafted without quarterback Russell Wilson. Seven draft slots before the Seahawks picked Wilson in the third round of the 2012 Draft, the Texans drafted wide receiver DeVier Posey. Posey finished his Texans (and NFL) career with 22 receptions and zero touchdowns. To be fair, a bunch of other teams also blew it in passing on Wilson. On the other hand, every other team has played in at least one conference championship game (all but the Detroit Lions have reached at least two). To be fair again, the Texans are the youngest NFL franchise. Still, zero conference title game appearances in 20 years is lame. The present Texans, far worse than lame.

The Texans have laughably little talent. Organizationally, their present greatest talent seems to be finding new levels below the bottom of the barrel to scrape. Cutting starting linebacker Zach Cunningham this week is the latest example, but quite likely not the last. Cunningham basically punked out. Repeated unprofessional behavior combined with overrated performance certainly don’t make him a devastating loss. Maybe it was a Machiavellian planned mutiny to escape the franchise. If so, well played Zach, I guess? The Texans falling for it and releasing a guy in the first season of a four year extension and taking a near 13 million dollar dead dollar cap hit for next season is just so pathetic. How classic that the Tennessee Titans won the claim for Cunningham to help their playoff push, and get him with zero guaranteed dollars owed beyond this season.

Rockets are streaking!

The Rockets try to grow their winning streak from a magnificent seven to a great eight Friday night by taking down the defending NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks at Toyota Center. The Rockets haven’t suddenly blossomed into a good team, but going directly from a 15 game losing streak into this seven game roll is laudable. In fact, the Rockets are the first NBA team ever to have a losing streak of at least 15 games and a winning streak of at least seven in the same season.

Seven in a row is seven in a row, but six of the seven have been at home and the Rockets caught a huge break when the Nets held out Kevin Durant Wednesday in the second game of a back-to-back for them. It’s an odd reality that two of the three players on the roster who have the highest hopes attached to them going forward, are presently non-entities. Hyped rookie Jalen Green went down injured in the first quarter of the first game of the winning streak. Kevin Porter Jr. has missed the last couple games and played limited minutes in the two prior to those. Measured against the NBA now, Green and Porter have been poor players this season. Presently the Rockets play better without them. But with this season about growth and development, when fully healthy Porter and Green belong back in the starting lineup so the growing pains and on the job training aren’t retarded any further.

Go Coogs!

On the college hoops side, excellent Saturday night matchup has the University of Houston playing at Alabama. For the first time this season Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars are “supposed” to lose. 8-1 UH is ranked 14th, the 7-1 Crimson Tide is number nine. The Coogs are off of three straight routs of grossly inferior competition. The Tide is off taking down Gonzaga last weekend. Classic clash of styles with UH’s in your face and grind you down rock solid defense up against a Bama offense which plays one of the more up tempo paces in the nation. There are 358 Division One college basketball schools. Alabama is 19th in possessions per game, Houston is 280th. Definitely a part of the Coogs’ low number is their defense causes opposition offenses to use more clock than normal to get a shot up (or try to get a shot up). Still, UH does not play fast offensively. UA is pedal to the medal.

Buzzer Beaters

1. It took Purdue basketball 70-plus years of the AP poll to this week finally get ranked number one in the nation. The Boilermakers hold on the top spot didn’t last one game, knocked off by a 40 foot buzzer beater at Rutgers Thursday night. Second ranked Baylor plays sixth ranked Villanova on Sunday. With a win the reigning National Champion Bears become the fourth number one already this season following Gonzaga, Duke, and Purdue.

2. It’s mere capitalism, but college football head coach salaries have exploded ridiculously.

3. Least desirable holiday desserts: Bronze-mincemeat pie Silver-peppermint bark Gold-fruitcake

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ROCKETS FALL TO WARRIORS

Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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