The Houston Rockets let slip a perfect opportunity to fell an Eastern Conference contender at home on Wednesday night and as a result, a Western Conference rival–the Los Angeles Lakers–have now crept within reaching distance of Houston’s seventh seed in the West.
Indiana Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert exploded for a season-high 28 points against the Rockets on Wednesday and carried the visiting side to 100-91 win at the Toyota Center. The loss has not only hurt the Rockets’ momentum coming out of March, but also the team’s playoff standing.
The Lakers buried the Timberwolves on Wednesday, allowing the team to go a game clear of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West and within two and a half games of Houston’s spot at No.7.
Houston has the easier April while L.A must play playoff teams in Memphis, the Clippers, and San Antonio Spurs before finishing their regular season schedule off against the Rockets on the 17th, however Los Angeles has just two games on the road the entire month- something that should play into the team’s favor.
Houston showed none of the class that has been on display during the team’s 8-1 month heading into Wednesday night’s performance.
”We didn’t have any rhythm to our offense whatsoever,” coach Kevin McHale told members of the press post-match. ”And the big thing was, when we did get in the paint, they challenged our shots and we bobbled some passes. They were just corralling everything.”
The schedule won’t get any easier for the Rockets- The Grizzlies and the Clippers possess massive frontlines that will looking to have a similar impact to that of Hibbert and the Pacers’ on Wednesday.
Robert White covers the Houston Rockets for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.