HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority: Rockets remind us of some big comebacks

A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority: Rockets remind us of some big comebacks
James Harden and the Rockets took care of business. Kevin C. Cox

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

The first round of the playoffs is a wrap. Four games to one, if you’re counting.

James Harden appears to be an MVP in-waiting and everyone is taking turns at stepping up when defenses try to stop him. Take away that one head-shaker of a 19-point loss in Game 3 and the Rockets are, indeed, running as one as they careen into the second round of the NBA playoffs against the winner of the Utah-Oklahoma City series.

Yes, everyone’s talking. About Harden and Chris Paul. Clint Capela. The possibility of defensive star Luc Mbah a Moute coming back from his shoulder injury. About taking care of business.

And about the third quarter. Specifically that 50-point explosion – 22 of them from Harden -- by the Rockets in Game 4. It was brilliant. A game changer. A total takedown. And, it seems, hint of things to come.

The only team in history to score more points in one quarter of an NBA playoff game?  Los Angeles, which scored 51 in the fourth in a 1962 loss to Detroit.

Two nights later, the Rockets broke it open just after halftime with a 30-15 run that had us wondering if they’re about to make third quarters their own.

It also got us remembering some of the other huge comebacks we’ve witnessed in Houston sports history.

We’re only skimming the surface, but we offer the following up – in no certain order to get you thinking what you’d put on your list.

* The Astros’ World Series wild, magical run last fall. They came back against the Yankees and the Dodgers – in individual games and in the ALCS and World Series. But what sticks out are Games 2 and 5 of the #HoustonStrong World Series.

We only thought we had seen an incredible comeback in Game 2 when Jose Altuve came home on Carlos Correa’s deep line drive in the bottom of the ninth. In Game 5, what didn’t happen? The Astros had to come from behind three times, including twice when they were down by three runs. They needed five homeruns and a walk-off single from Alex Bregman in the 10th before Houston won it 13-12. Did we also mention the game went five hours, 17 minutes, had a total of 417 pitches and seven homeruns and was the second-highest scoring game in World Series history? And was named 2018 Houston Sports Awards Moment of the Year? Whew.

*Sticking with baseball, we remind you about last May’s game against Minnesota when the Astros trailed 8-2 going into the eighth inning and scored 11 runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth to win 16-8. Going into that game, the Astros were 0-659 in franchise history (back to 1962) when they were down by at least six runs going into the eighth. That win made them 1-659.

*  Tracy McGrady’s whirlwind 13 points in 35 seconds against the Spurs in 2004. With the Rockets down by 10 in the closing minute, announcers said the game was over. Then McGrady took over. He  scored on a three-pointer, a three-pointer where he was fouled and made the free throw and two more three-pointers. The last one came when McGrady got a turnover on the other end of the court and took it the distance to score with 1.7 seconds left to give Houston an 81-80 win.

* The NFL Playoffs, Wild-Card Game, January 3, 1993, Rich Stadium. Not a comeback, rather The Collapse. The Houston Oilers dominated the first half of the game and took a 35-3 lead over Buffalo early in the third quarter on safety Bubba McDowell’s 58-yard interception return. Then things turned. With Jim Kelly on the sidelines, Frank Reich came off the bench, picked Houston apart and rallied the Bills to 38-35 lead before Houston sent the game into overtime with an Al Del Greco field goal. In overtime, Warren Moon overthrew Ernest Givins and Nate Odomes intercepted to set up a field goal and a 41-38 Bills’ win. It remains the largest comeback/collapse in NFL history.

* Super Bowl LI. Okay. No Houston team was playing, but the Bayou City was the game’s congenial host. With New England, down 28-3 early in the third quarter, Tom Brady and the Patriots scored 25 unanswered points to tie the game on James White’s 1-yard run and a Brady-to-Danny Amendola two-point conversion, then won the game in overtime on a 2-yard White run.

* Ian Poulter, 2018 Houston Open. The man made for big moments opened the week with a 73, was in 123rd place and had his bags packed for the trip home after round one. He bounced back to shoot rounds of 64-65-67 and earn the final spot in the 2018 Masters with a one-hole playoff win over former University of Texas star Beau Hossler. It was the largest first-round-to-win jump in 35 years on the PGA TOUR.

Feel free to chime in and send us your favorite Houston comeback moment on Twitter - @HOUsportsAwards.







 

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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