The Houston Rockets currently hold the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference and while the Los Angeles Lakers may be rapidly approaching their position, don’t expect the Rockets to give up the spot to Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard and miss out on making the post season for the first time since 2008-09.
The Los Angeles Lakers moved to a 29-30 overall record on Thursday night, inching their way closer to a .500 record, however despite a recent run in with injuries to key players, the Rockets have enough left in the tank to maintain their position in the standings.
As we enter the home stretch of the NBA season, Houston will benefit from an easy schedule. 13 of their final 23 games will be played at the Toyota Center and among those visiting teams will be Dallas, Phoenix (twice), Minnesota, a struggling Golden State Warriors outfit, Cleveland, Orlando and Sacramento- a pretty sure fire way of certifying a playoff berth.
An intriguing match up will be the Lakers hosting the Rockets in their final regular season meeting to be played at the Staples Center on April 17. Ideally, the perfect scenario would be a ‘whoever wins gets in’ match up, but the more likely narrative will see the Lakers chasing Utah for the eighth seed.
The Utah Jazz (31-27) hold just a half-game lead over Houston for the seventh seed and their run home might be a little trickier. Oklahoma City loom twice in March and April while New York, Chicago, Memphis (twice) and Brooklyn will all provide difficult challenges.
The Lakers have gotten their act together in recent weeks, but they remain behind the eight ball at this stage. It will take a very successful month and a half for the purple and gold to salvage what has been one of the more disappointing seasons in NBA history.
Follow Robert White @RobertWhitebrrr.