The Houston Rockets are playoff-bound, but have a chance to improve their position, starting Sunday night when they host the Sacramento Kings.
The Rockets are currently the seventh seed, but trail the Golden State Warriors by one-half game. Conversely, a poor finish could cost Houston as well. The Rockets lead the Los Angeles Lakers by just 1 1/2 games for that No. 7 seed and those two teams will meet in the season-finale Wednesday in Los Angeles.
The Rockets fell at home Friday night to the Memphis Grizzlies, 82-78. Memphis leads the NBA in opponents scoring and Houston is second in the league in scoring at 105.8 ppg. Defense won the battle on Friday with the Grizz holding the Rockets almost 30 points under their average.
"Today was definitely a good lesson," Jeremy Lin said after the loss. "Obviously it didn't end the way we wanted it to end but we learned a lot and gained valuable experience going into the playoffs. We wanted to win obviously but I think we did some good things down the stretch."
The Rockets trailed by 13 at the half and made it a game. Not known for their defense, the Rockets held the Grizzlies to 33 points in the second half.
James Harden had 30 points and Lin added 17. No other Houston player scored in double figures as the team shot 31 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers.
The Kings will miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season and the team is in the middle of a sale. The Kings could be in Seattle next season, or, if mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, gets his way, the team will stay in California.
On the court, things have been rough of late. The Kings have dropped five of their last six and the most recent setback came Friday night in San Antonio against the Spurs. Sacramento fell, 108-101, as seven San Antonio players scored in double figures.
The Kings fell behind by 10 after the first quarter, then put 37 points on the board in the second. Unfortunately, so did the Spurs.
"We got aggressive (in the second quarter), but we should have played that way from the start," DeMarcus Cousins said.
The Kings were led by Cousin's double-double. He scored 19 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Jason Thompson chipped in 18 and three bench players - Toney Douglas, Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette - had double figures.
The Kings visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, then finish the season with a home tilt, which could be the last in Sacramento, Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The teams split this season's two matchups, both of which were in Sacramento. The Kings have lost nine of their last 11 in Houston.