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.

So how pumped are you about this Rockets' season so far? Are you willing to fake it a little? Their 5-3 start is OK, but nothing to fire up the masses.

The Rockets are going to be very good again this season. Somehow that's probably part of the problem with the relative apathy for this team. Other than within the Rockets organization, or among the most loyal and hopeful fans, the Rockets are not considered a first tier NBA championship contender.

Russell Westbrook makes them a more compelling game to game watch. Other than that (and The Brodie is a big that), the Rockets have a bit of same old same old feel to them. Their same old same old isn't bad. It's quite good. James Harden is going to keep putting up astounding stats. The Rockets are going to keep firing up three point shots like no other. They will win plenty of games. But does it excite you on a regular basis? Even with the Warriors out of the way this season, until or unless the Rockets are in at least the Western Conference Final, they're not going to be vigorously embraced as a title threat. That's a tough standard. But it's where the Rockets are.

Astros making off-season news

It's still kind of letdown mode from the Astros losing the last two games of the World Series. Plus the off season Hot Stove of transactions isn't even warming yet, as we wait to see where Gerrit Cole signs to pitch for the next several years. Among many other moves.

Anyone can understand a father wanting to set up his son going forward. UH basketball Head Coach Kelvin Sampson has done a stupendous job rebuilding the Cougars, so in his new contract was able to have his son Kellen designated as "head coach in waiting." Jim Crane is the lead owner of the Astros, so we should all grasp his moving son Jared into Astros' business operations, and moving out Reid Ryan in the process. I now note that I don't know Reid really at all on a personal level, and not all that deeply on a professional level. While it's the on field results that by far most shape the image of the franchise, when the Astros were a joke in this city, bringing on the relentlessly upbeat, approachable, and classy son of Nolan as President of Business Operations was a notable step in the Astros' return to relevance. With Reid reassigned, in a non-shocking non-coincidence, Nolan is out as an Astros Special Advisor.

Key stretch for Texans after off week

Allow me a brief semi-screed about the Texans' open week. Most of the sports world refers to it as a "bye" week. Most of the sports world is wrong! A bye is when an individual or team advances in a tournament bracket without having to play. If for the first time in franchise history the Texans finish as one of the top two seeds in the AFC, they will earn a bye week past the Wild Card round directly into the Divisional round of the playoffs. A week during the season when a team has no game scheduled is not a bye week. It's an open week, or an off week, or a week without a game. It's not a bye week! I feel a little better for that, thanks.

As for the Texans, their open week (!) finds them in good position in the AFC South. At 6-3, they'll pick up tackling the defining stretch of their regular season schedule. Deshaun Watson gives them hope in any game anywhere, but it's unlikely the Texans win two road playoff games to get to the Super Bowl. They need the playoff bye which means one home win from a spot in AFC Championship game. There are two division leaders ahead of the Texans in the AFC. The Ravens are 6-2, the Patriots are 7-1. The Texans play both within their next three games: at Baltimore, home vs New England. Those challenges are sandwiched around a home game with the Colts. Indy is behind the Texans at 5-3 (before the Colts play the dismal Dolphins Sunday) but with a win at NRG Stadium would own the AFC South tiebreaker. With a loss in Baltimore they're probably Texans Toast with regard to securing a bye. With a win they'd have a real shot at bit, winning tiebreakers over both the Ravens and the Chiefs.

SEC showdown

College football's latest regular season game of the year has LSU at Alabama Saturday afternoon. The Crimson Tide has rolled the Tigers in their last eight meetings. Two of the last three years LSU didn't even score.This season's Alabama's defense isn't up to usual elite Nick Saban unit standards, LSU has an explosive modern up-tempo attack for the first time, well, ever. With a strong showing and a win Tiger quarterback Joe Burrow can about cinch up the Heisman Trophy. LSU's only Heisman winner did it 60 years ago, Billy Cannon in 1959. Entirely gratuitous follow up fact!: Syracuse won the National Championship that season, beating Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

Buzzer Beaters

1. I'll take LSU +6 ½ 2. Toronto or Seattle Sunday? MLS Cup matchup! 3. Best rarely used synonyms for steal: Bronze-snaffle Silver-purloin Gold-filch





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