The Rockets had declared they had to win all seven April games. That has become increasingly unlikely, but two wins into that goal, it has also become uncertain whether even that would be enough to get them a playoff spot.
In the hope that they could become a playoff team if they found a way to win like one, the Rockets have gone from five games under .500 to five games over since the All-Star break. But with just five games remaining, they are running out of time to catch the Hornets or Grizzlies.
New Orleans would clinch a playoff spot with any two wins or Rockets losses. Memphis would return to the playoffs with three wins or Rockets losses.
"We just want to stay alive," forward Luis Scola said. "All we can do is try to win games. We are five games above .500 for the first time this season and we guaranteed that we are going to be at least .500 at the end of the year. I think we need to appreciate that. You don't know what's going to happen. We can't control New Orleans or Memphis. We are going to keep playing hard and try to keep winning games."
The Rockets' 15-5 record since the All Star break is fifth-best in the NBA. But three of those losses are in the second half of back-to-backs, and they will be playing the Hornets after facing the Kings the night before.
Even if they can overcome that and win in New Orleans -- they rallied from a 16-point deficit in their previous game against the Hornets -- neither the Hornets or Grizzlies have shown any signs of stumbling enough for the Rockets to catch them.
"We're winning," Chuck Hayes said. "So is everyone else. We can't control what they do. All we can do is play the games in front of us and hope to win them."
ROCKETS 114, HAWKS 109: The Rockets were down 14 points and running out of time not just in the game, but in the season and their hopes to steal a playoff spot. Once again, they refused to concede. They tightened their defense in the second half. After allowing 75 percent shooting in the second quarter prior to two late Atlanta heaves to end the half, they gave up 33.3 percent in the third quarter. Their offense took care of the rest, scoring 30 more points than the Hawks had allowed per game in their four-game winning streak to take their seventh-consecutive home win.
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