I don't think it's extremely controversial at this point to paint the Rockets as a team that is hopeless in the playoff race. Despite their win last night, Houston has just a 10.3% chance to make the playoffs according to the Hollinger Playoff Odds tool. That's what happens when you're three out with five games to play.
The real problem the Rockets had in climbing back into the playoff picture out West was simple: they couldn't make up any ground on the teams ahead of them because the entire lower part of the West's playoff bracket went on a huge run. After losing to the Rockets on March 1st, the Blazers went 10-5 over the next month, with wins over the Spurs, Thunder, and two over the Mavericks. And when they did lose? They helpfully dropped a game to the Hornets.
After losing to the Knicks on March 3rd, the Hornets put together their own run: 9-5. Their losses? All of them are likely going to the playoffs. Bulls, Lakers, Nuggets, Celtics, and Grizzlies No David West? No problem.â†µ
Memphis, facing a tough road without Rudy Gay, has instead reeled off 10 wins in their last 14 games. Including wins over the Mavericks, Spurs, Celtics, and Thunder.â†µ
The Rockets have gone 15-5 since the All-Star break, and have played some exemplary basketball of their own. But from where we stand now, it looks like the hole to start the season was simply too deep to overcome. It takes two to make a playoff race, and the teams ahead of them simply haven't cooperated.â†µ