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Rockets cemented in the NBA’s upper echelon despite recent cold streak

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Despite three recent losses, the Rockets remain in the top five halfway through the season.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Halfway through the season, the Houston Rockets are 32-12 and third in the Western Conference.

As a tough schedule looms for the remainder of January, some critics, like Matt Moore of CBS Sports, believe Houston could regress into the second tier of teams with the Clippers and Raptors.

Clint Capela returned last this week after missing over a month with a knee injury, although he played fewer than eight minutes. Capela rejoining the team will surely bolster the Rockets’ defense — which has been league-average for the year but stout in the last month — even more.

Rockets Rankings

Source Rank Trend
Source Rank Trend
ESPN 3 down 1
CBS Sports 5 down 2
USA Today 4 --
NBA.com 3 down 1

Despite narrow losses to the Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Heat, the Rockets remain unanimously in the top-5. CBS Sports, the most reactionary rankings system, has them in the fifth spot, the lowest out of the major lists.

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann notes that the Rockets’ historic three-point rate has only increased as the season progresses. Over the last month (17 games), they've taken 49.5 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, up from 43.7 prior to that. They haven’t shot 22 percent from range in many games like they did last night, so the increased rate has been largely a positive.

In their next five games, the Rockets will face five teams with winning records, including the Golden State Warriors, the best team in the league.

The season is only halfway complete, but if it ended today, the Rockets would be feeling pretty damn good about their team.