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Rockets beat Kings' B-team, clinch playoff berth

The drama was gone in this one, but the results stay the same.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets clinched the playoffs Wednesday night, cruising over the Sacramento Kings playing without DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay, Darren Collison and Marco Bellinelli 116-81.

James Harden scored 38 points and hardly broke a sweat. To give an example of the kind of defense the Rockets were facing, they shot 28.5 percent from three-point range but scored 116 points. Clint Capela grabbed 17 rebounds in 22 minutes. Patrick Beverley had 12 assists and 6 steals. The Rockets had their absolute way with the Kings, and ensured they'll play at least four more games in comfortable fashion.

But make no mistake, no one should feel good about how the Rockets managed to make the playoffs. Other than a big win over the Thunder, the Rockets lost every game against a good team down the stretch, squeaking in because of three games against the Lakers, Timberwolves and Kings, teams picking in the top 10 in the draft next year.

And yet, because the Utah Jazz had to close against the Warriors, Spurs and Clippers, they faltered enough to give the Rockets an easy path to the playoffs. And even the 2016 Rockets couldn't lose to this team. No champagne is being popped in the locker room tonight. But at least the season didn't end here.

We'll have more in the morning on whatever this is.