The San Francisco 49ers rallied for a 24-21聽win over the Dallas Cowboys in their preseason opener at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara Mike Remmers Color Rush Jersey , California, on Thursday night.聽NFL @NFLYes, we're still playing football. And the @49ers just took a LATE lead!#DALvsSF is generally the case, starters weren't afforded a big stage to shine as the Dallas and San Francisco coaching staffs looked to insulate their most dependable contributors from injuries.聽Understandably, those decisions opened the door for youngsters on both sides to make good first impressions with the start of the regular season one month away.聽聽 聽 聽 聽聽Michael Gallup Shows Makings of Future No. 1 WRLast week, Prescott聽told reporters聽he was "still trying to gain chemistry" with the new members of his receiving corps.聽On Thursday, that didn't seem to be an issue.聽Prescott, who went 3-of-3 for 39 yards, capped off his only drive in Dallas' preseason opener by lofting a 30-yard score to rookie Michael Gallup down the right sideline:聽NFL @NFL.@Dak to @michael13gallup...Yes. Yes! YES! #DALvsSF, it wasn't just that Gallup found paydirt that was so encouraging.聽Rather, it was that he put his big-time potential on display by dusting 49ers safety Jimmie Ward after the two appeared to be locked stride-for-stride coming off the line of scrimmage.聽Given Dallas' lack of legitimate vertical threats, the third-round pick should be afforded every opportunity to emerge as Prescott's top target.聽Pro Football Focus @PFFOver his 2-year career at Colorado State 鈥?Michael Gallup saw a ridiculous 117.4 passer rating on his 282 targets including 21 TDs. Picking up right where he left off.. if he continues to make plays the way he did Thursday night Isaiah Oliver Color Rush Jersey , it likely won't be long before he's the focal point of the Cowboys' aerial attack.聽聽 聽 聽 聽聽Dante Pettis Gives 49ers Another Dangerous Deep Threat聽Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan is widely regarded as one of the NFL's more innovative offensive tacticians, which means he should have a field day with deploying rookie Dante Pettis as the 2018 season rolls along.聽Although Pettis is likely to face a steep learning curve as he continues his transition from the University of Washington to the Bay Area, he proved Thursday that he has NFL-caliber speed that can blow the top off opposing defenses.聽That reminder came early in the third quarter when Pettis burned Dallas' secondary for a 53-yard grab that could have been a touchdown had聽C.J. Beathard not underthrown him:聽NFL @NFLGoin' DEEP.C.J. Beathard to the rookie WR Dante Pettis for 53 yards! #DALvsSF馃摵: @nflnetwork will take a back seat to Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon at the start of the season, but his game-breaking capabilities should make him the kind of secret weapon Shanahan lets loose when the 49ers are in need of a vertical jolt.聽聽 聽 聽聽Bo Scarbrough Leads Encouraging Showing for Cowboys RB DepthDallas held Ezekiel Elliott out of its preseason opener, which opened the door for Rod Smith and Bo Scarbrough to take spins in the spotlight.And sure, the sample size wasn't big. But when those two pounded the ball between the tackles, the results were generally positive.聽Smith, who trotted out with the first-team offense, picked up 32 yards on eight carries and ripped off a big 15-yard gain on his first carry of Dallas' opening possession.聽Once Smith traded in his helmet for a baseball cap, Scarbrough took over and performed admirably with the second-team offense.聽Rob Phillips @robphillips3Rod Smith helped that drive move. No Zeke, no problem. 29 yards on 5 carries. #cowboyswireDavid Helman @HelmanDCRod Smith has been having a fantastic training camp, and it is carrying over. Dude looks great.Operating behind quarterback Cooper Rush Odubel Herrera Jersey , the former Alabama bruiser rumbled his way to nine聽carries for 33聽yards and a goal-line touchdown plunge along with two聽receptions for 19聽yards.聽Jon Machota @jonmachotaWhen Bo Scarbrough gets a chance to run behind the first-team offensive line, I think Cowboys fans will be very pleased with the resultsThe highlight of that performance came midway through the second quarter when he slashed through the 49ers defense for a 28-yard pickup:聽NFL @NFLBO (SCARBROUGH) KNOWS. #DALvsSF Elliott is healthy, neither Smith nor Scarbrough figures to see more than light complementary work.But in the meantime, they should give the Cowboys some peace of mind in the event their lead back ever hits the shelf.聽What's Next?聽Both the 49ers and Cowboys will be back in action Saturday, Aug. 18. Dallas will host the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium, while San Francisco will head to NRG Stadium for a meeting with the Houston Texans.
The buildup for this series truly began in February, with some pointed comments from Golden State’s Draymond Green.

Or in October, when Houston won at Golden State on ring night.

Or in June, when the Rockets landed Chris Paul.

Whenever it started, however it started, it’s clear that this is the series that the NBA-watching world wanted. Western Conference finals, Golden State versus Houston Jordan Akins Color Rush Jersey , Game 1 on Monday on the Rockets’ home floor. Series winner to the NBA Finals, series loser will undoubtedly feel like they let a championship ring slip away.

”They got us. We got them,” Green said. ”Got to go out there and play. We’ll see who better.”

After more than 10 months of playing, posturing and some pontificating, it really is that simple.

This Rockets team was assembled – the key being the trade for Paul last summer – with hopes of unseating the reigning champion Warriors from their perch atop the NBA. So far, so good. Houston set a franchise record with 65 wins in the regular season, went 2-1 against the Warriors in games that were hyped at the time though seem meaningless now, and has the likely MVP in James Harden.

But how this Houston season will be remembered hinges largely on the outcome of this series.

”Everybody at the beginning of the year thinks they’ve got a chance to be here,” Houston’s P.J. Tucker said. ”Everybody talks about winning. Everybody talks about fighting for a championship. … We really believed it. We’re really fighting to get there. This is not a game. Everybody takes their job serious.”

He’s right on all counts, particularly on the talking.

And the talking will most definitely continue over the next few days. With five full off days between the Warriors’ and Rockets’ respective second-round clinchers on Tuesday and Game 1 of their series, a lot of people will be saying a lot of somethings.

”I think it’s going to be a great series,” said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry , whose Pelicans fell in five games to the Warriors in the West semifinals. ”I think it will be very entertaining. I think the people will have a great time watching that series, because you have great players out there. … I’m looking forward to it.”

He’s hardly alone.

For as great as LeBron James has been, again, the West matchup is going to overshadow the East finals between Cleveland and either Boston or Philadelphia. That’s no disrespect to the East; that’s just reality given the seasons that the Warriors and Rockets have had, and the collision course that seemed so inevitable for either to avoid.

”The whole world’s been waiting for this matchup,” Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal said in his role as an analyst Tuesday night on TNT.

The three Warriors-Rockets games were about as anticipated as any in the regular season: Golden State lost two of the three, and the final combined score of those matchups was Warriors 353, Rockets 352.

”That was so long ago,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. ”I think both teams are different and playing better. So you know, I try not to look at those games but we kind of know, they know what we do and they know what we do.”

It’s the second time in four years that Houston and Golden State have met in the West finals; the Warriors ousted the Rockets in five games in 2015 on their way to the NBA title. Golden State was the No. 1 seed that year, Houston was No. 2. The seeds are flipped this time Cheap Chad Thomas Jersey , after Houston finished the regular season with the league’s best record.

This is the first time since 2014 – a span of 15 series – where Golden State will have to play Game 1 on the road.

”Every series you play, it gets harder and harder and harder,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who is seeking a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals and third ring in four years. ”So following that trend for sure.”

The verbal jousts between the Warriors and Rockets go back to the preseason, with Green questioning Houston’s commitment to defense. And after Houston beat Golden State 122-121 on opening night of the season, that prompted Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to turn that phrase back around on Green.

It picked up in January, when the teams split a pair of games. And in February, Green told Sports Illustrated that he knew the Rockets were focused on knocking the Warriors off.

”Noted. Great. We’ll see y’all soon,” Green said then.

Soon, now, has a definitive date. Soon is Monday.