ROCKETS 115, GRIZZLIES 103

John Wall and Jae'Sean Tate lead Rockets to dominating victory over Grizzlies

The Rockets suffered a big loss despite getting the win. Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets showed their complete dominance defensively Thursday night versus the Memphis Grizzlies as they won 115-103. No player for the Grizzlies scored over 16 points against the Rockets' defense. John Wall and Jae'Sean Tate stood out the most in the Rockets' win. The saddest part of the night was Christian Wood's ankle injury, which became heartbreaking.

On Wednesday night, the Rockets were defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in a blown-out fashion. John Wall did not play because of the passing of his grandmother. The Rockets lacked energy against the Thunder. Wall understood his leadership, guidance, and presence was clearly missing in Wednesday night's loss. In Thursday's victory, Wall had a plus 34 from the field. Wall's misdirection and ability to attack the paint created open opportunities for his teammates. He created pressure on the Grizzlies interior defense, so the Rockets had open shooters on the perimeter. The Rockets shot 42% from the three-point line, including Wall shooting 44% too. Wall increased the Rockets offensive rating from 80.6 to 117.6 against the Grizzlies within two nights.

"It makes it immensely easier," as Coach Silas mentioned on Wall's game. "He has a great feel for the game. He has great feel for the point guard position as far as who needs [a] shot. Attacking defenses and defenders that might not be able to guard him. When you have your leader on the floor it makes every one's job easier."

Wall loves directing the offense, so everyone is involved in different actions and accumulated inside the set. He has become great at catching the defense off guard. Those eight assists came from finding the right teammate in position. Wall finished with 22 points by only taking six shots.

"He [John Wall] sees stuff a lot of people don't see and that's why he is one of the best point guards in the league," as Jae'Sean Tate gave Wall praise. "He is such tough cover because he is so fast and knows how to manipulate the defense to get what we need."

Speaking of Tate, his night was fantastic against the Grizzlies as he took advantage of the creases in their defense. Tate became effective by taking open shots, being aggressive in the paint, and setting quality screens. He even showed his ability to cut towards the basket. Tate's IQ is impressive for a 25-year-old rookie. He shot 77% from the field and had 19 points in Thursday night's game. Tate became sneaky inside the Grizzlies painted area by being 4/4 in the restricted area. Hopefully, Tate climbs the poll of Rookie of the Year candidacy.

"It's about me being comfortable out there," as Tate mentioned to the media. "Just getting more used to the pace of the game and learning how to read the game. The vets are helping me dissect [the] game."

The Rockets' defense did a tremendous job of slowing down the number one bench in the NBA. In the beginning of the game, the Rockets did have a problem slowing down the Grizzlies transition offense. The Rockets' biggest objective was getting back on defense as the Grizzlies were ferocious with their fast break points. As the Rockets eventually got set on defense, the Grizzlies struggled from the field. The Grizzlies shot the three-ball at 34.3%, as the Rockets caused contested attempts. Although the Grizzlies finished with 11 offensive rebounds, only seven of those rebounds came from the first quarter. Houston's defensive rating was a 105.1 versus the Memphis.

"I feel like if we can get back in transition and get our defense set, we can really defend and make it hard on teams. Versatility is key in our defense," as coach Silas praised their defensive performance.

The Rockets eventually went on an 18-4 run late in the second quarter, which helped the second-best defense control the game. It's incredible how the Rockets have the second-best defense in the league as they are right behind the Los Angeles Lakers.

Up next: Hopefully, the Rockets maintain their play as they take on the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night.

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Houston's offense had another strong day at the plate in Seattle against the Mariners on Wednesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After striking a deal with the Mariners before Tuesday's game, along with a reported deal with the Marlins on Wednesday before the finale, the Astros continued to try and bolster their bullpen with fresh arms while also focusing on this series against Seattle. Having won the night prior to even it up, it came down to the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon to decide the series.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 63-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-5)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (6-6)

Astros continue to score runs in Seattle

Just like in the earlier games in this series, the Astros had no problems offensively. They strung together four consecutive one-run innings, starting in the top of the second when they loaded the bases, then got an RBI groundout by Myles Straw to go up 1-0. In the top of the third, Yuli Gurriel drove one in on a two-out RBI double, bringing in Jose Altuve, who led the inning off with a double of his own. Chas McCormick led off with a single in the fourth, then later scored on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.

The fourth run in as many innings came in the top of the fifth, as Gurriel would notch his second RBI with a solo homer to start that inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. They didn't stop there, and neither did Gurriel, as he would get RBI number three on the day as part of a four-run top of the sixth, with RBI hits him, Altuve, Diaz, and Carlos Correa, doubling the lead to 8-0.

Odorizzi gets to the sixth before allowing two homers

The run support gave Jake Odorizzi plenty of leeway, which he didn't need until the bottom of the sixth. He held Seattle scoreless over the first five frames, allowing just four baserunners on a hit by pitch, a walk, and two singles, all peppered over that span and erased in each inning. Kyle Seager would get the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a one-out solo homer to cut the lead to seven runs at 8-1. After a single in the next at-bat, recently traded Abraham Toro made it four games in a row with a homer, this one a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-3 and end Odorizzi's day. His final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 95 P.

Houston wins the series

Houston brought in Brooks Raley to finish the sixth, issuing two walks but stranding them to keep it a five-run lead. Myles Straw helped push that back to six in the top of the seventh, reaching on a single to start the innings, then stealing both second and third to get in position for Diaz's third RBI of the day, a groundout to make it 9-3. Cristian Javier was the next reliever out for the Astros, but he would not make it through the bottom of the seventh, allowing a single and three walks, the third with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Bryan Abreu was brought in to get out of the jam, getting a strikeout to end the seventh. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker would put two more runs on the board with a two-run homer making the lead seven runs at 11-4. Abreu remained in for the bottom of the eighth, erasing two one-out singles to get through the frame. Brandon Bielak took over in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, posting a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win and give Houston the series victory.

Up Next: Houston will travel down the coast to San Fransisco before getting a day off on Thursday. They'll pick up an exciting three-game series with the Giants on Friday, with the opener slated to start at 8:45 PM Central. Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, while San Fransisco's starter is TBD.

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