Stronger finish needed

What did we learn from the Rockets loss opening night?


There were some good things but bad things as well. What can the Rockets lock on so they can finish games stronger? Here are some things that need to be re-insured so they can be more equipped against stronger teams this season.

Things that stuck out:

The most impressive thing Thursday night was Mr. Westbrook by far. He shot for 42% from three and had 24 points. Westbrook gives the Rockets more athleticism on the court in all phases. His court vision was unmatched by seeing Eric Gordon or PJ Tucker in the corner for threes. He was also exceptionally well in the pick and roll with Clint Capela or Tyson Chandler. Westbrook continuously set his centers up for perfectly thrown lobs throughout the game. As we could see, Westbrook is an upgrade at point guard for the Rockets this season. He helped carry the load Thursday because of James Harden's bad shooting night. This trade could actually plan out to something great despite Westbrook and Harden arguing.

What hurt the Rockets last night?

Even though Harden had 19 points last night, he shot 2/13 from the field last night. Not your typical night when you see Harden shoot poorly from the field. Harden had a tough Thursday night finding the basket. Did that discourage him from taking more shots? Harden told reporters after the game that he was not aggressive enough offensively. He went to the free throw line 14 times and was perfect. Harden going to free throw line that much is typical "Harden Play." Hopefully the outside chatter is not getting in his head. One thing that stood out from him Thursday night was that he had 14 assists. It looks like Harden can trust his teammates more by keeping them engaged. Harden looked exceptionally well by running the offense, keeping the crowd engaged, and not worrying about his poor offensive play.

Eric Gordon struggled from the field as well by only having 11 points to show Thursday night. He shot 25% from three but luckily it is the first game of the season. Gordon will eventually overcome this slump. He is a great shooter but it needs to show it in games like this. Most of his shots were great looks but Gordon could not get them to fall.

Mike D'Antoni has to make better defensive rotations in the fourth quarter. There is no reason at all for Tucker to be guarding Brooke Lopez in the post. The Rockets were not playing the San Francisco Warriors where they can play small the whole entire game. Tucker is a great defender but tall enough to guard a Lopez. D'Antoni has to adjust his defensive game plan so the Rockets can maintain the lead.


Will Harden or Gordon always shoot poorly from the field this season? NO! It is only the first game so please relax. Things will get better for the Houston Rockets.

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Houston looked much more like themselves

Astros return to form in win over Angels at home

Cristian Javier was impressive Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hoping to avoid spiraling further out of control, the Astros turned the page from their disappointing road trip and the recent stretch of games. They hoped to start this new homestand on a good note, welcoming in the Angels for four games of this eight-game stint at Minute Maid Park.

Houston would get the much-needed win, with their offense coming alive early in the game to put up big innings, which they rode to the victory thanks in part to a great start by Cristian Javier.

Final Score: Astros 8, Angels 2

Astros' Record: 8-10, fifth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Alex Cobb (1-1)

Astros' offense starts clicking early

Houston would grab the early momentum, despite leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. They would get a leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI triple by Myles Straw to jump in front 1-0. They made it a three-run inning, with an RBI by Carlos Correa then a bases-loaded RBI-walk by Yuli Gurriel, though for consecutive innings would leave three runners stranded on base.

Correa drove in another in the bottom of the next inning, getting an RBI single to push the lead to four runs, then would come in on a two-run single by Alex Bregman, who made it 6-0. That set things up nicely for Cristian Javier, who was on the mound trying to take advantage of the opportunity for another start.

Javier has an electric start



Javier was electric over the first three innings, including getting eight of the first nine outs by strikeout while allowing only a walk and double during that span. He would have longer innings in the next two, but in both cases would keep the Angels off the board, finishing in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 98 P.

Houston gets the much-needed win

Meanwhile, Houston's offense kept scoring. They pushed the lead two runs further over the fourth and fifth, getting a run in each with another RBI each for Straw and Bregman. With Javier's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen, and despite allowing a controversial two-run home run to Albert Pujols, of all people, that looked to be a foul ball, got through the inning.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the seventh but would get just one out while hitting a batter and allowing a single before Dusty Baker brought in Brooks Raley to face the heavy left-handed part of the Angels lineup. Raley would get through it, sending things to the seventh-inning stretch with the six-run lead intact.

Raley would get another out before Joe Smith would finish that inning in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly, who has been starved for work lately with no save opportunities, would close things out in the ninth as Houston would start this series off with a win.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday night. Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will be on the mound for the Angels, while Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will look to repeat the success of his last start; an eight-inning shutout performance for the Astros.

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