A late season swoon doomed the Houston Rockets playoff hopes and they will close the season tonight by hosting the New Orleans Hornets in Space City.
The Rockets looked like they were on their way to a playoff berth under first year head coach Kevin McHale before losing seven of eight. Their latest setback, a 97-88 loss in Miami, officially eliminated Houston from the postseason for a third straight year.
Chandler Parsons netted a career-high 23 points for the Rockets and Goran Dragic donated 16, but Houston's slim playoff hopes came to an end despite the fact that Heat stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were sidelined.
"It's frustrating, especially when we lost six in a row. We have to learn something from that, and hopefully next year we can come back stronger," Dragic said of not making the postseason.
Injuries and illness to the Rockets starting backcourt of Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry likely sealed the team's fate. The two guards will have missed a combined 45 games after both sit out the season finale.
The Hornets, meanwhile, have closed strongly and won for the sixth time in eight games on Tuesday in Oakland when Marco Belinelli's layup with 1.5 seconds remaining sent the Hornets past the Warriors, 83-81, on Tuesday.
Golden State was up 81-76 with two minutes to play, but didn't score again and a three-pointer from Belinelli, an ex-Warrior, and a layup from Greivis Vasquez preceded the Italian's game-winner.
Belinelli finished with a game-high 23 points and Carl Landry added 14 for the Hornets.
New Orleans has won seven of its past nine against the Rockets, including a 105-99 overtime win in the Big Easy a week ago.
Eric Gordon, the key acquisition in the offseason blockbuster that sent Chris Paul to the LA Clippers, scored 27 points in that one. Gordon, however, was able to play in just nine games for the Hornets this season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.