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NBA Standings 2012: Rockets In Sixth Place Before Crucial Stretch Of Games

With only three weeks left in the NBA regular season, the Western Conference playoff race is still completely jumbled, as the Houston Rockets are 3.5 games behind the LA Lakers, currently in third place, and 2 games ahead of the Utah Jazz, currently in tenth.

Their game Wednesday night against Utah will have huge implications for both teams, as 32-25 Houston could give 30-28 Utah a devastating blow with a victory.

It's also the start of the biggest five-game stretch of the Rockets season, as Houston faces Phoenix, Denver twice and Dallas over the next week.

Those are also the three teams right behind the Rockets in the playoff race, and if Houston takes care of business they will clinch their first playoff appearance since 2009.

The good news is their schedule gets significantly easier in the last week of the season, as they have three games against teams who would be better served with losses (New Orleans twice, Golden State) as well as a match-up with a Miami team that may have nothing to play for.

For all the latest news and notes on the Rockets, head over to The Dream Shake.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.