The Rockets didn't get much help from other teams during this late-season playoff charge, but taking the season as a whole into account, they rarely helped themselves.
Last night they needed the Sacramento Kings to do to the Memphis Grizzlies what they did to Houston a few days before - beat them in their own building. That didn't happen. The Grizzlies took care of business 101-96 Friday night and clinched their first playoff trip since the 2005-2006 season, officially eliminating the Rockets.
Houston, who certainly gave fans a lot to cheer about in the second half of the season, didn't get a whole lot of breaks down the stretch. Fans and observers heaped a fair amount of praise on the team for their strong run post-all star break, and deservedly so. However, let's not forget how many games this team let slip in the first half of the season.
The Rockets lost their first five games of the season, and 10 of their first 13. Yes, they lost Yao Ming yet again - but they were "prepared" for it this season. Of course, I mean that in the way the team wants you to think they mean it. The reality is that no team can be fully-prepared to lose their only superstar, even when you can set your watch to their next injury. That's why the Rockets, as by now I'm sure we all agree, need to part ways with Yao - but that's for another entry.
Even with as close to the edge as Houston was playing the last few weeks, there were opportunities. The Rockets surprised with outstanding performances against Boston and San Antonio, but still dropped games to teams like Sacramento and the L.A. Clippers.
You never want to overreact to a hot streak at the end of an NBA season, and we can only hope the front office feels the same way. The Rockets are still a long way away, they don't have a superstar player, the Yao Ming situation is up in the air, and there's also that small matter of their outstanding coach's future in Houston.
It could make for an interesting offseason... or a very painful one.