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Rockets drop season finale to Kings, 96-83

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Houston sat most of their rotation in the season’s last game.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets were just trying to get out of tonight’s contest against the Sacramento Kings without any further injuries. So to that extent, the game was a success. P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green and Joe Johnson came through unfazed, leaving Luc Mbah a Moute as the only late-season casualty.

But with tonight’s lineup featuring mostly the junior varsity version of the Rockets, Houston fell to Sacramento 96-83 in what was essentially a snoozefest.

James Harden, Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Ryan Anderson, and Eric Gordon all sat out the game, leaving Green as the game’s leading scorer for Houston, with 31 points on 11-22 shooting from the field, including 7-17 from beyond the arc.

The Rockets trailed for the majority of this contest, which is something that tends to happen when half of your lineup spent significant time in the G-League.

In fact, the Rockets dug so deep into their lineup tonight that newly signed Aaron Jackson not only played 35 minutes of action, but he did it all without even a name on his jersey.

There’s not a ton to say about a completely meaningless game for both squads, but a few Rockets showed well tonight,

In addition to Green’s big night scoring, the Rockets also got 19 points from R.J. Hunter, though he also managed to rack up 5 fouls, including 4 in the first half.

Tarik Black finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 boards, and he also managed to hit a three-pointer. Jackson finished with 8 points and didn’t look totally lost when running one of the guard spots, and perhaps most impressive of young guys, Zhou Qi finished with 4 blocks on the night. He also had just 2 points and 3 boards in 32 minutes, but he’s going to be one heck of a force as a shot blocker as he matures.

For the Kings, they were led by Willie Cauley-Stein who had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. They also got 14 from Buddy Hield, 12 from 41-year-old Vince Carter, 12 from Bogdan Bogdanovich, and 11 each from Jakarr Sampson and De’Aaron Fox.

The Rockets finish the season an NBA best 65-17, and they now move on to the first round of the playoffs, where they will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Rockets swept the Wolves in the regular season, so they’ll rightfully be heavy favorites in the one-seed versus eight-seed matchup.

The playoff schedule has yet to be released, but the first game likely goes down sometime over the weekend, so stay tuned here at TDS for our playoff coverage. I’m just as excited to write about it as I am to watch it.