Rockets Seal Seventh Seed

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Playing without a backcourt that is nursing injuries, the Houston Rockets beat the Seattle SuperSonics 111-107to seal the seventh seed in the postseason. The two Jacksons, Mark and Jim, led the way as the replacement backcourt with a combined 47 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists. The Rockets will now face either the Kings or the Lakers -- most likely the Lakers -- in the playoffs. Houston has just one meaningless game left, a home game against intrastate rivals Dallas Mavericks.

The top two teams in the West are Minnesota and San Antonio, both from the Midwest division, so that means the Rockets will be facing the team with the third-best record in the West in the playoffs. That spot is currently contested by the Kings and the Lakers, with the Kings up half a game and also holding the tiebreaker.

What would it take for us to see a Yao-Shaq playoffs? The Lakers would have to win their final two games against the Warriors tonight and the lottery-bound Trail Blazers tomorrow, while the Kings would have to fall to the Warriors tomorrow. Not impossible by any means.

Not only the fans, but the players would also likely prefer a Lakers matchup. Houston is 0-4 against the Kings this year but 2-2 against the Lakers. Yao has some of his best games when facing Shaq.

If Houston were to face the Lakers, the Rockets could actually make some noise in this year's playoffs.

The Rockets play their final and essentially meaningless game tomorrow as they host the Dallas Mavericks. That game starts at 8:30pm MDT tomorrow and will be broadcast locally on channel 51 and nationally on NBA League Pass.

Each team had six players in double figures.

Seattle starting guard rookie Luke Ridnour got four fouls in five minutes of action.

Scott Padgett also started in place of Kelvin Cato, who did not play. Head coach Jeff Van Gundy did not specifically address the reason Cato was benched.

Adrian Griffin(knee) is on the injured list.Steve Francis(elbow) andCuttino Mobley(shoulder) did not play yesterday and are questionable for tomorrow.


Jonathan Feigen ofThe Houston Chronicle writes: Coach Jeff Van Gundy had not changed his position. He still did not consider resting players a worthwhile goal in late-season games. But guards Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley were scratched from Monday's game in Seattle, the first this season either has missed because of injury. Francis has been playing with a sprained right wrist and an inflamed left elbow. Mobley bruised his left shoulder in Utah on Saturday. "This was their decision," Van Gundy said. "It's always better to play if you can play. They along with Keith (Jones, the Rockets' trainer) decided it. It's better that I stay out of injury decisions. They know their bodies and Keith knows his medicine. I don't know either, so it's better I stay out of it."