The Houston Rockets survived at home against the Los Angeles Lakers last week but then dropped two straight games against Southwest division opponents to fall to 9-10 on the season. After falling to the San Antonio on Friday night, 114-92, the Rockets traveled back home on Saturday and lost to the Mavericks, 116-109.
Losing three of their past five has sent the Rockets slipping down the rankings, falling from No. 14 to No. 17 this week according to Seth Rosenthal:
Poor starts have been hurting the Rockets lately. Even in their win over the Lakers -- the lone victory of the past week -- they had to claw back from down eight at the end of the first and down 13 at halftime. In general, they've been stuck playing from behind, relying on rapid runs (which, to be fair, are a specialty of theirs) to make games competitive. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how serious James Harden's ankle injury is after he skipped practice on Sunday.
ESPN's Marc Stein also has the Rockets at No. 17, while John Hollinger's computer rankings confirms that the 17th spot is mathematically the right choice for those making the rankings. Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk is a bit more discouraged about the Rockets, having Houston No. 20 on his list as he laments the inconsistencies on the Rockets bench.