The Rockets may not make the playoffs this season but that doesn’t mean that Houston fans are witnessing playoff caliber basketball.
Houston picked up another last minute victory Sunday night with a 114-109 home defeat of the Atlanta Hawks. The win keeps the Rockets alive in the playoff race for the final spot in the Western Conference.
The other night it was the little man Kyle Lowry who hit the big shot against the Spurs. Tonight it was the big man who got the job done in the clutch.
Luis Scola had been non-existent for almost three quarters before he got his game going. Fortunately, he woke up at just the right time by hitting three critical jump shots in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter to close out the game.
Scola finished with 15 points on the night with twelve of them coming in the second half. Prior to Scola’s second half awakening it was the Chuck Wagon who picked up the scoring on the inside with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Not only was Chuck Wagon amazing from the field (8-of-9), but he also shutdown Al Horford to 14 points on 17 shot attempts. Horford was also limited to four rebounds.
Scola may have shown up in the clutch but if it weren’t for Chuck then the Rockets wouldn’t have even been in contention at game’s end.
Kevin Martin was able to continue to keep his hot streak going by outscoring Atlanta’s Joe Johnson. Martin finished with 35 points compared to Johnson’s 25. Both players led their teams in scoring but Martin had the scoring edge because of his ability to get to the charity stripe 13 times.
Lowry had a much quieter night compared to last Friday but still finished with a hard earned 17 pints and eight assists. I say hard earned because he had to be playing through pain for most of the night. Take a look. http://www.red94.net/highlight-lowry-fouls-zaza-face/6469/
Houston’s Playoff Odds
The Rockets (41-36) are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference and trail both the Memphis Grizzlies (44-33) and New Orleans Hornets (44-33) by three games for the final playoff spot. It has become apparent that one of these three teams will receive an early vacation this year while the other two get a chance to play their way to a title.
If the playoffs were determined by who was playing the best right now then it would undoubtedly be Memphis and Houston taking the final two spots. But that isn’t the case and Houston still has some work to do to make up for the terrible start to the season. They will also need a good amount of luck if they are to get in. Here is the most likely way I see that happening.
What Needs To Happen:
Houston is not going to catch Memphis. The Grizz are playing too well right now and their remaining schedule doesn’t have enough competitive teams too provide the necessary losses. That leaves New Orleans as the last team that the Rockets can catch for the final spot and their schedule looks difficult enough to pose a serious threat.
New Orleans still has to deal with a head-to-head match-up with Houston later this week. If the Hornets are able to take this victory then they can consider the playoffs as a lock. But a Hornets loss to Houston could make things very interesting in the final week when the Hornets finish the season against Phoenix, Memphis, Utah and Dallas. None of their remaining games are locks and their final four games are played over a small period of only six days.
The Rockets will need some help but they can do themselves a huge favor this upcoming Wednesday by defeating the Hornets on the road. This would do wonders for Rockets mindset and could cause some panic in New Orleans for a late season collapse. The odds aren’t in the Rockets favor but they definitely won’t go down without a fight.