Every-Thing Sports

What are the Rockets?

As of this writing (Monday night around 8:30pm CST), the Rockets are in fifth place in the Western Conference. They're one and a half games behind the Utah Jazz for fourth place. The same Jazz team that beat them in Houston on a last second Hail Mary three pointer as time expired. They're also four games behind both the Nuggets and the Clippers, as well as seven games behind the Lakers. Needless to say, they're climbing up a hill lined with Vaseline.

This team is not where anyone thought they would be at this point in the season. 53 games into the season with 29 left to play and the Rockets have little time to make any waves. The playoffs are approaching, but this team looks more like a pretender than a true contender. Owner Tilman Fertitta, general manager Daryl Morey, and head coach Mike D'Antoni are looking more like the Three Stooges instead of three of the leading individuals in their respective fields. So what exactly are the Rockets?

Gimmick-ball Frauds

The small ball lineup, the analytics, threes over twos...all of this is cool when it works. When you trade away you center and decide to run a lineup out there in which the tallest player is 6'7, there's sometimes in which things will work, and there are times in which it goes down like the Hindenberg. Things have been a flaming disaster more than it's been a striking success. The small ball has been more hit than miss lately., but there's been more stumbles than stand ups lately, leaving me to think this team is a fraud.

Playoff-bound

​Despite the obvious hang-ups, they will make the playoffs. However, don't be surprised if they make an early exit. Living by the three means you'll die by it too. Whenever they aren't making their threes, they struggle big time. In a seven game series, their style may not hold up against tough competition. But what if the Rockets make the necessary adjustments? If they do, they'll make themselves the most annoying team to face in the playoffs and perhaps the toughest out.

All or nothing

Their playing style leads you to believe they could win it all, or lose in the first round. Either they'll win or lose by 20. Either they'll spend money and pay the luxury tax, or they'll make questionable moves to get under it. They remind me of the old school slugger in MLB named Dave Kingman. Kingman hit 442 homers in his career, but had a .236 batting average. He's the best example of what the Rockets represent.

This team is an enigma wrapped in a paradox that's been sucked into a black hole. Their best qualities are only shown when the perfect conditions present themselves. The difference between them being considered geniuses and idiots is a fine line called winning. When they win, they look smart. When they lose, they look like dumbasses. Morey and D'Antoni have laid all their eggs in the small ball basket. They're attempting to play with a lineup the league hasn't seen in over 50 years. They'd better be careful because Fertitta doesn't take too kindly to losing. We're talking about a guy who's won at just about everything he's done in life. This team is on a collective hot seat. I give them this season and maybe one more before Fertitta blows it up and starts over. Maybe his ego won't allow him to tank and/or blow it up like the previous owner did. If they don't show a significant enough improvement, D'Antoni is gone after this season and Morey may not be here too much longer. Until then, let's get our popcorn and enjoy the show. It'll be a beauty or a beautiful disaster either way.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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