Rockets Down 0-2 to Blazers: Here Are Six Reasons It's OK to Panic

Categories: Basketball, Sports

Photo by Groovehouse
Let's hit that panic button, shall we?
Long before Portland took their largest lead of the game well into the fourth quarter of game two in the first round of the Western Conference at Toyota Center, the cracks were showing in the Rockets' foundation. Despite a blistering start with Dwight Howard absolutely dominating on the low post going for 19 points in the first quarter, a team playoff record for a single quarter, the Blazers were not fazed. By the third quarter they were in control even if the Rockets managed a couple of runs to keep it close.

What appeared to be anomalies in game one turned into trends deep into game two, and it started to become clear that the Rockets might not be the best team in this series. Prior to the series, Portland appeared to be the more unbalanced team. They had a suspect bench and a terrible defense. As the final ticks came off the clock putting the Blazers up 0-2 in the series heading back to the Pacific Northwest, the problems were mounting for the favorites.

At this point, there is good reason to be concerned if you are a Rockets fan.

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If Google Elected Athletes to Office, the President Would Be...

Photo by Keith Allison
Bro hugs, it's what sports is all about.
Before computers ruled our lives, before the internet connected everyone to everything, relevance was a far more subjective attainment. Stardom was a feel, degrees of which were debatable.

Nowadays, with our ability to measure the relative joy in/admiration for/tolerance of almost anything thanks to Internet analytics, we have measures for relevance. Things like web hits, Twitter trending topics, Facebook "Likes." Self esteem used to have no statistical measurement. Now, it has Twitter followers.

These measurements have become incredibly handy in sports (especially in the content driven part like radio and blogs), as we can truly see in numerical form which athletes/personalities are moving the needle.

To that end, how about this latest bit of data?

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Five Reasons the Rockets Will Win the Portland Series Even After Losing Game 1

Categories: Basketball, Sports

Photo by Jose Garcia
Sunday night's overtime loss to the Trailblazers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs cost the Rockets the very home court advantage they fought for until the penultimate game of the season. It was as frustrating a loss as fans will see with poor play down the stretch, sloppy play most of the game, a blown lead in the fourth quarter and a team of referees that appeared to believe they were opponents of both teams and the game of basketball itself.

The good news is that it was pretty damn ugly and the Rockets still managed to take it down to a final possession. Losing the home court certainly hurts, particularly when the Rockets spent so much time fighting to secure it, but there is most definitely a silver lining.

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NBA Playoffs Opening Weekend In Viral Video Form

The first weekend of the NBA Playoffs is in the books, and Game 1 of every series has been played. If you're a hoops junkie, you have another seven weeks of this to look forward to.

If you're the spouse of a hoops junkie, you have seven weeks to find a good divorce lawyer. You've been warned.

The theme of this first weekend is "the dogs were barkin'!" On Saturday, three road underdogs pulled the straight up upset, including an 8 seed beating a 1 seed in Indiana, with the Hawks beating the Pacers in a game that wasn't even close. (Seriously, the worst 8 seed in recent memory meeting up with the worst 1 seed in recent memory. The only thing that makes this potentially watchable is the possibility of Roy Hibbert punching a teammate during the game.)

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Rockets' "Meaningless" Finale Wasn't Meaningless for Gamblers

That time the dude from Big Bang Theory was lobbying for Dwight Howard.
I've said many times, we need a special corner of the sports media world for gamblers. A special channel, a special talk radio show, a special Tweetdeck. All of it.

People who don't wager generally don't care about the same nuances of a sporting event as people that do. That much was obvious on the final night of the NBA regular season, as the Rockets trotted a mish mash lineup of a few regular starters, a couple reserves, and a handful of guys who played more games in Rio Grande than Houston this season as they took on the New Orleans Pelicans in the finale.

Radio hosts and columnists called the game "meaningless." These people obviously didn't have a sawbuck or two on "ROCKETS OVER 54.5 WINS."

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Five Reasons Why Sports Talk Radio Is Ignoring the Rockets

Photo by Marco Torres
Out of sight, out of mind on the radio waves.
I am and have always been an avid listener to sports talk radio. I enjoy the banter with callers, the analysis and I even manage to make it through the randomly juvenile antics that occasionally make their way across from morning shock jock-ery on other stations. Listening during the past few months, however, has been frustrating for fans of sports other than football.

In the case of the Astros, that might be warranted despite recently opening the season with a pair of impressive wins against the Yankees and finally calling up George Springer from the minors. But the Rockets are good...really good. They have secured home court in the first round of the playoffs and the team is populated with young, athletic guys who are fun to watch. They might be one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA.

Yet, outside of a scattering of segments with players and coaches, finding Rockets talk on the sports dial is damn difficult. Unfortunately, it isn't likely to get much better with the playoffs and there is a reasonable explanation, however unpalatable that might be for fans.

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Flopping Is Probably One of the Greatest Sports Sins of Them All

Photo by WEBN-TV
Pulling a Richard Sherman moment is the least of the seven deadly sports sins.
I got into a semi-argument on air with my SportsRadio 610 cohost, Ted Johnson, the other day. The tiff was about Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman, and his act in the wake of the NFC Title Game on FOX, when he eviscerated Michael Crabtree in an interview with Erin Andrews and turned a "WE" moment into a "ME" moment.

I know that topic is more than two months old, and there was a good reason we argued about it (off hand, I don't remember that good reason), but the argument boiled down to Ted (who is vehemently anti-Sherman) asking me if I would let my son wear a Sherman jersey.

Thinking about it for a second, I determined that I would let him, but not encourage him. (Awesome passive-aggressive parenting by me, by the way.) Ted's point, which was fair, was less about jerseys and more about "Would you want your kid acting like that?"

The answer? Probably not, but I can tell you something even more offensive than Sherman-style mugging that would make me ground my sons from now until they're 50.


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Rockets Secure Home Court in First Round With Win Over the Spurs

Categories: Basketball, Sports

Photo by Jeff Balke
Dwight Howard's return leads the Rockets to home court in round one.
In her first trip to Las Vegas, my wife decided to place her very first sports bet on the Houston Rockets. She and two of her friends put $100 each on the Rockets in their game against Minnesota on Friday night. Any win would net them $190 each and even a loss by one would keep them from losing. The Rockets lost by 2 and it was then decided she should never bet on their games again.

This is life in the world of the Houston Rockets fans. If it is can go down to the wire, if they can lose critical games only to make them up with big wins later, that is what will happen. I am always amazed that despite playing 82 games, teams will fight for spots in the playoffs right down to the last game of the season. In this case, the Rockets did it in the second to last. Close enough.

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Does No Progress in CSN Houston Mediation Effort Really Mean No Progress?

The hard part of mediation is getting to yes.
The Houston Astros, Houston Rockets and Comcast gathered before federal district court judge Lynn Hughes on Friday. This wasn't a hearing, and no judicial orders were handed down. It was, instead, the third mediation session for the parties within the past several weeks. The dispute under mediation is the CSN Houston bankruptcy, but as has been the case since October of 2012 when the network went on the air, nothing was settled.

I handled lots of mediations back in my litigation days. I was a big fan of mediation days. They were days of easy billable hours that the client wouldn't dispute. The lunch was free, and there were usually free muffins and donuts for breakfast with all of the free drinks one could desire. For me, this was back in the days before BlackBerrys and iPhones, so a day at mediation was a day away from emails and constant disruptions from partners. It was bliss.

The one issue with those mediation days was the whole mediation thing. Mediation works great in concept. It brings the parties together with a chance to air their side, give their position, with no consequences. The plaintiff gives its desired settlement. The defendant gives its position. The mediator puts the parties in different offices, then shuttles back and forth, trying to get the two sides to meet somewhere in the middle.

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Rockets Release Greg Smith, Sign Former Longhorn Dexter Pittman

Photo by Aaron Vazquez
Possibly the answer to Rocket's next-level chances.
The Houston Rockets' magic number (combined Rocket wins and Portland losses) to clinch home court in the first round of the playoffs and lock up the fourth seed (and a likely first round tussle with those Trail Blazers) is two.

So let's start there.

With four games to go in the regular season, and a clinching of the fourth seed in the Western Conference imminent, Daryl Morey and the Rockets can begin the process of getting their ducks in a row. That means being strategic about doling out minutes and granting rest. That means bringing back guys who are currently resting (Dwight Howard, most specifically) at just the right time to shake off the rust before a (hopefully) deep playoff run.

And, unfortunately for center Greg Smith, it means making sure you've got healthy bodies from top to bottom on the roster.

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