The Houston Rockets have pulled even with the Golden State Warriors for the sixth seed in the Western Conference and will try to take sole possession of the spot Monday night when they visit the Phoenix Suns.
The Rockets trampled the Sacramento Kings 121-100 on Sunday night in Houston. That victory tied them with the Warriors for sixth, but the Rockets hold the tiebreaker by virtue of a 3-1 head-to-head record against Golden State this season.
After Monday's tilt with the Suns, the Rockets finish the season on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Warriors host the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, then visit the Portland Trail Blazers to close out the campaign on Wednesday.
"There are so many scenarios; we don't control anything," said Houston coach Kevin McHale. "We're just going to have to play. Whoever we play, we will not be favored. We'll be underdogs to whoever we play. That's fine with us. We want to get in there and get the guys playing well. I like our chances against anybody."
Against the Kings, the Rockets built an 18-point lead at the half. They cruised from that point to get the easy victory.
James Harden led the way, as always, with 29 points and nine assists. Jeremy Lin had 15 points and Carlos Delfino chipped in 14 off the bench. Chandler Parsons returned from a four-game absence with a calf strain to score 13 points and Omer Asik registered a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Suns have been awful of late with 11 losses in their last 12. They snapped a 10-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 102-91 road victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
On Saturday, the Suns fell in Minnesota to the Timberwolves, 105-93. Phoenix was outscored 55-40 in the second half and committed a staggering 28 turnovers, which led to 33 points for the T'Wolves.
"We were making passes where we were trying to be too fancy or tried to thread the needle too thin," said interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. "You just have to do what the game tells us to do. When we play that way, we are pretty good and when we don't, 28 turnovers is the result. You can't beat anybody if you turn the ball over 28 times."
Markieff Morris led the Suns with 20 points. Jared Dudley added 16 off the bench and Wesley Johnson contributed 15. Luis Scola chipped in 14 points, but had eight turnovers and Goran Dragic had a double-double with 10 points and 14 assists, but he turned the ball over six times.
The Suns have dropped seven in a row at home.
The Rockets have taken two of three from the Suns this season, but Phoenix has won two in a row and 10 of 13 at home against Houston.