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Until Monday night, to start the second half to be exact, the Houston Rockets did not look like the team that was going to knockoff powerhouse Golden State and make it to the NBA Finals.

The team that finished just one-tenth of a point below the Warriors as the most potent offense this season was struggling.

Then came that third quarter, and the Rockets became only the second team in playoff history to score 50 points or more in one quarter.

Led by James Harden's 22 points, the Rockets made 14 of 23 field goals, 9 of 13 three-pointers and 13 of 13 free throws.

Harden outscored Minnesota in that quarter as the Timberwolves hit only 33 percent from the floor and managed just 20 points.

That 50-point third quarter was all the talk Tuesday -- and few noticed in the fourth quarter the Rockets were outscored 31-19 -- but for those 12 minutes they showed why they were the No. 1 seed instead of the defending champion Warriors.

There are four games on tap tonight and more to come, but so far the biggest upset has been No. 6 seed New Orleans sweep of No. 3 seed Portland.

Every "expert" on ESPN picked Portland. Just after the sweep, head Coach Alvin Gentry was told his 2018-2019 contract option was being picked up. Smart move by the Pelicans, who are led by Anthony Davis, who averaged more than 28 points per game this season.

Davis was a one-and-done at Kentucky and the No. 1 draft pick by the Pelicans in 2012. Davis was 6-3 at the start of his junior year in high school and 6-10 by the time he graduated. Now that's a big move.

. . .

Next week is the Super Bowl of horse racing, or maybe that game is the Kentucky Derby of football.

It will be the 144th Run For The Roses, and no doubt if one trainer was picked as a favorite it would be Todd Pletcher, who brought four quality horses to Churchill Downs on Monday.

Pletcher, who won last year's Derby with Always Dreaming (his other Derby win was 2010 with Super Saver), has nothing but headliners.

Magnum Moon, winner of the Arkansas Derby, was on the plane from Florida as well as Noble Indy, winner of the Louisiana Derby; Audible, winner of the Florida Derby; and Vino Rosso, winner of the Wood Memorial.

Most likely the favorite will be Justify, trained by Bob Baffert. Justify was unraced as a 2-year-old but has been golden so far, winning three times including the Santa Anita Derby.

It won't be surprising if Magnum Moon, who is also undefeated, opens as the second favorite but drops to third or fourth in the wagering because his Beyer speed figure was not outstanding in the Arkansas Derby, but there could be a couple of factors.

First, the Arkansas Derby had some stiff winds. Secondly and most importantly, jockey Luis Saez ran him on the lead for the first time and the veteran jockey managed to control the clock, running a fairly slow 6 furlongs before kicking into high gear.

Also, for some reason Magnum Moon drifted out in the stretch.

He could be a great wagering choice May 5 as he has shown the ability to run out front or come from off the pace. That takes real talent.

Magnum Moon set an Oaklawn record for money earned when he won the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby, tallying $1,140,000. The record was previously held by American Pharoah, the last horse to win the Triple Crown.

He won $1,o50,000 at Oaklawn because the Rebel Stakes purse was $750,000 but has grown to $900,000. Going into next week, the main thing to watch out for is Pletcher.

Sports on 04/25/2018

Print Headline: Rockets show glimpse of why they're scary

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