NBA standings 2012: Houston slips past Dallas in Southwest

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a poor in-conference record, the Rockets are at .500 and look to climb in the division standings.

It's been a bumpy road for the Houston Rockets, but a modest two-game win streak has the team at .500 and just ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

Houston is 11-11 following wins over Washington and Boston, and is trying to right the ship despite a 1-4 record in the Southwest Division and a 3-10 record in the conference. Those two victories have pushed the Rockets ahead of Dallas in the division, and Houston is now six games out of first place. The Spurs, who are 18-6, are in first place and are followed by the Grizzlies at 14-6.

The Rockets are currently tied with the Nuggets for the eighth spot in the west, but would likely lose the tiebreaker because of the poor in-conference record. At 3-10, Houston has the second-worst in-conference mark in the west, ahead of only New Orleans (2-11), which sits in the Southwest basement with a 5-17 mark. Houston also has the third-worst division record, ahead of only the Hornets (0-3) and the Suns (0-3). To gain ground, the Rockets need not only to do better in their own conference, but also to improve on the road, where the team is just 2-6.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are first in the Western Conference, followed by San Antonio and Memphis. The surging Los Angeles Clippers are fourth, with the surprising Golden State Warriors at fifth. Northwest Division opponents Minnesota and Utah are sixth and seventh, respectively. Dallas is just half-a-game behind Houston and Denver, with Portland also in the mix.

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