NBA 2012 standings: Rockets among 2nd tier playoff contenders in Western Conference

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Recent stretch of winning play has Houston hanging around the playoff contenders in the West.

The Houston Rockets have had trouble gathering positive momentum this season, but after winning four of their last five games they appear to be heading in the right direction.

With nice wins over the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers, the Rockets find themselves in a three-way tie for seventh place in the Western Conference standings, 7.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. Houston finds themselves among a group of five or six teams slipping behind the top group of teams in the West and now vying for the final three playoff spots.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently in sixth place, but Houston, the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers are all within two games of the Wolves.

At the top of the conference, what was a three team race between Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Memphis has become a five-team race. The Los Angeles Clippers have won 12 consecutive games to pull withing a game of OKC while the Golden State Warriors are 8-2 in their last ten games to move into fifth place, just 3.5 games behind the top sport.

In the Eastern Conference, Miami and New York still lead the way but things are tightening up with 10 teams all withing seven games of the leaders.

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