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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Everyone else is doing it! Composite image by Jack Brame.

Can a professional athlete come up with a worse excuse for getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs than blaming it on a doctor?

Fans would have more respect for a player if he said the dog ate his urine test results.

Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V (as in I'm taking the Fifth) and cornerback Bradley Roby have been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Both will sit out for the remaining five games of the 2020 season, plus the first game of the 2021 season.

There were many questions about Fuller heading into Year 5 of his NFL career. Up until 2020, his tenure in the NFL has been plagued with injuries, and some Texans fans clamored for him to be swapped before the 2020 trade deadline. Fuller was having his best season, and the Texans decided to keep him. In fact, Deshaun Watson said the team would've revolted if Fuller had been moved. In 11 games, Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns.

I'm going to cut Bradley Roby some slack because he took ownership for using a banned substance. He made it clear that it was his responsibility to know what is on the NFL's list of banned PEDs. He will probably have that list taped on his fridge the rest of his NFL career.

Fuller took a different approach, one that unfortunately resembles many other famous athletes' excuses for getting caught with PEDs; Blame a medical professional. Or somebody, anybody else.

Whether Fuller and Roby were receiving treatment from the same medical professional is unknown. More important, it's irrelevant. In 2020, how could athletes possibly blame a medical professional when a list of banned substances is hanging on the wall in every team's training room?

The answer is they shouldn't. Let's take a look at athletes with the worst excuses for juicing. Specifically for getting caught juicing.

Rafael Palmeiro (MLB) - Other than a physician or trainer, the only person more improbable to blame for a positive steroid test is your own teammate. When Palmeiro tested positive in 2005, he blamed a supposed B-12 shot (it wasn't B-12) administered by Baltimore Orioles Miguel Tejada.

Brian Cushing (NFL) - Cushing played his entire NFL career with the Houston Texans. Cushing's first positive test came in 2009. He had abnormally high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, a human growth hormone that typically shows up in pregnant women. He later changed his excuse to "overtraining." He has since claimed the positive test was a result of a cancerous tumor. He tested positive for PEDs again in 2017.

Maria Sharapova (Tennis) - Sharapova claimed she never read an email which listed the banned substance, meldonium, she was caught taking.

Barry Bonds (MLB) - When Bonds tested positive for PEDs in 2000 and 2001, he put all of the blame on San Francisco Giants trainer Greg Anderson. Bonds said Anderson told him that he was using flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is not typically injected, and certainly doesn't lead to your hat size growing.

Lance Armstrong (Cycling) - Armstrong, after years of denial, admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs on an Opera Winfrey prime time special. His excuse? Every other cyclist was doing it. Oprah did not ask him if he would jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if the others did. How could anybody win seven Tour de France titles after surviving testicular cancer? They might as well have renamed the race Tour De Lance. His sad saga ended with him being stripped of his seven titles and banned for life.

Melky Cabrera (MLB) - Cabrera tested positive while playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2012. After his positive test, he paid a patsy $10,000 to create a fake website that sold fake products to try and fake his innocence. The FBI busted him and he served a real suspension.

LaShawn Merritt (Track & Field) - The famed American sprinter blamed his third positive steroid test on a testicular enlargement supplement called Extenze.

Petr Korda (Tennis) - Korda stated that his love for veal was the reason he tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. He went further saying he liked veal even more when the calf was injected with steroids. A scientist testified Korda would have to eat 40 calves every day for 20 years to equal the amount of nandrolone discovered in his system. Sounds like the Ivan Drago diet (from the first fight, when he killed Apollo Creed).

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