The Rockets saw a promising first quarter lead slip away in New Orleans, as the Hornets officially punched their ticket to the NBA Playoffs right in front of them. New Orleans did not officially mathematically eliminate the Rockets, but the odds are now...well, microscopic. If the Rockets win their three remaining games (Clippers, Mavericks, Timberwolves), and the Grizzlies lose their remaining four (versus Sacramento, New Orleans, Portland, and the Clippers), then the teams would finish in a tie for eighth place, and Houston would reach the playoffs based on the head-to-head tiebreaker, as they took two of three from Memphis this season.
For all intents and purposes though, the Rockets season is done. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle got some post-game quotes and they weren't sunshine and roses:
"We just got to remember the sounds of their team making the playoffs and how happy they were," Kevin Martin said. "We could hear them from our locker room. That's all we have to keep in mind throughout the summer."
"I'm not going to lie; it's not like it's a big surprise," forward Luis Scola said. "We could kind of see this coming. We were behind the whole season, sometimes six or 10 games behind. We got closer at the end of the year and it looked like we were going to get there. It was a very long shot. We were the whole year behind. You can't expect to play for four months one type of basketball and for two months another type of basketball. We had to play that type of basketball the whole year long.
The Rockets are agonizingly close to contention, and a whole summer of Kyle Lowry, starting point guard, very well could have put them over the top in the race. Now they'll face another summer of uncertainty. Daryl Morey will have a lot of decisions to make this offseason on the direction of the club, most of them likely involving acquiring a big man.