Jeremy Lin looked around on the first day of the Houston Rockets' training camp with more hope than expectation. James Harden arrived three weeks later and everything changed.
The Rockets are back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Houston will face Oklahoma City, Harden's former team, in the first round beginning Sunday.
Houston had the No. 6 seed within reach after clinching a berth last week, but losses in three of its last four games dropped the Rockets to No. 8.
Harden came to Houston in a stunning trade with the Thunder and then lit up his old team for a career-high 46 points on Feb. 20. Oklahoma City won two of three matchups in the regular season.