The Houston Rockets’ 104-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings last night severely damaged their playoff chances. With four games to play, the Rockets (41-37) sit three games behind the Memphis Grizzlies (44-34) for the West’s eighth and final playoff seed. Even if the Rockets win all their remaining games, they won’t be assured a postseason appearance; they’ll need help from Memphis and the New Orleans Hornets (44-33). For the Rockets to return to the playoffs, Memphis must lose three of its next four games, while the Hornets would need to lose each of its next five.
Houston owns the tiebreaker against Memphis, as it won the season series, 3-1. However, if the Rockets and Hornets finish with identical records, New Orleans wins the tiebreaker by virtue of its superior division record.
Houston and New Orleans face off tonight in a must-win for the Rockets. Indeed, every game is a must-win for them now.
Tom Martin of The Dream Shake, SB Nation’s Rockets blog, is resigned to Houston finishing out of the postseason. In his Rockets/Kings recap, he writes, “Suppose it was a good run – a great run, even – but this wasn’t exactly the ending I expected. It is an ending, by the way.”