Weekly Rockets Rundown

Westbrook, Rockets Ranks, and more

Rockets.com

Welcome to the Rockets Rundown. It's the offseason, and I've been on a bit of a hiatus, but I'm back to give a weekly recap of everything Rockets related until tip off next season. There's plenty to get to, so let's have at it.

Westbrook rumblings

Now that MVP candidate Paul George has (understandably) changed landscapes from the open plains of Oklahoma to the sunny beaches of California, Russell Westbrook is left holding the check with the Thunder. With all signs pointing to a rebuild mode in OKC, Westbrook appears all but gone.

Of course when a superstar is involved in trade rumblings, so to is Rockets' General Manager Daryl Morey. It was no surprise then that when the prospect of Westbrook being made available became known, murmurs of the Rockets' interest also crept through the pipeline.

Could the Rockets trade for Westbrook? It's possible. As built, Houston isn't exactly resplendent with trade chips. They're not devoid however, either. It would probably take some serious multi-team calculus of a trade to make it work, but it could. Should you expect it? Not really.

Now if it did happen? Well that's something you'd want for sure. Everyone said James Harden and Chris Paul wouldn't work, and then they ripped off a league-best 65 wins. I'd be more than happy to watch that experiment unfold, if anything to prove that the Rockets can, in fact, become even more dramatic and petty than their current iteration.

Where the Rockets stand

The Warriors are a shell of themselves, the Lakers got their guy in Anthony Davis, and the Clippers defense got extra salty. Meanwhile, the Rockets resigned their guys. Nothing flashy.

So where should they rank headed into next season?

If your answer was top three, you'd be close.

If predictive analytics are your jam, the guys over at fivethirtyeight.com have the Rockets number one in the west next season, and second overall to a 76ers team that looks to benefit from some addition by subtraction.

If you're looking for a more grounded reasoning for optimism, remember that the only team that has won more games in the last three years than the Rockets (174) is the Warriors (182). The Rockets lost none of their starters, and kept every meaningful bench piece. Sometimes being boring is a good thing. We'll find out this fall.

More offseason rumblings

  • It looks like a reunion between Chris Paul and center Tyson Chandler is looking more and more likely, as the Rockets have reportedly targeted the former defensive player of the year as a backup big man.
  • It's not quite the award Harden was aiming for, but the NBA Players Association announced on Tuesday that The Beard was voted "Toughest to Guard" for the 2018-2019 season. P.J. Tucker also took home hardware as the 2019 Sneaker Champ, because that is a thing that players vote on apparently.
  • Former Rockets assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik--widely credited with the Rockets defensive turnaround the past two seasons--looks to be close to finding a new home with the New Orleans Pelicans. Bzdelik was let go at the end of the season.

Not Rockets related at all

Stranger Things 3 was awesome. And so was Spider-Man.

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Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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