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Recent Soft Schedule Benefits 3rd Place Rockets

The Rockets used a soft schedule to hold third place in the Western Conference while battling injuries and uncertainty.

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets are rolling through a smooth stretch of the schedule as they cling to third place in the Western Conference playoff picture. In the last two weeks the Rockets have posted a 5-2 record while plodding through the dregs of the East and West. They beat their only playoff-bound opponent, the Clippers.

The five wins came over the Clippers, Magic, Nuggets, Pacers and Pelicans. Recent losses came at the hands of the Phoenix Suns and Rudy Gobert the Utah Jazz.

Rockets fans hope to set the cruise control for next week as the Rockets face off against the T-Wolves, Wizards, Raptors and Kings. Toronto and Washington are both solid Eastern Conference teams on losing streaks of two and four games respectively.

Injury and exhaustion are playing their role to drag the Rockets down with no return timetable for Terrence Jones and a 7-10 day waiting period for Patrick Beverley.

On a positive note we had a full blown real life Dwight Howard sighting.

Here's what happened in the national power rankings this week. These are published on Monday and Tuesday, so they don't reflect the Rockets last two victories or the return of Dwight:





ESPN 6 0 3/23
SB Nation 5 0 3/23
Yahoo! 7 -2 3/23
USA Today 5 +1 3/22
CBS Sports 6 0 3/23
SI 8 0 3/23

In the Western Conference the Rockets will never catch the Warriors, but have made up some ground on the Memphis Grizzlies who suffered their worse loss of the season yesterday against the Cavs. The Spurs have supplanted the Mavericks in playoff seeding for the moment and the Pelicans remain bound to a cruel fate despite their winning record.

Memphis Grizzlies 50-22 0 6-4
Houston Rockets 48-23 1.5 7-3
San Antonio Spurs 45-26 4.5 7-3
Dallas Mavericks 45-27 5.0 5-5
New Orleans Pelicans 37-34 12.5 4-6