February 23, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale (left) talks to his team on the sidelines against the Washington Wizards in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 105-103. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
If the Rockets ever needed more reason to “bring it” to tonight’s battle against the Lakers, they should consider leaving the sport alone. It was embarrassing enough watching the burned out Suns pick the helpless Houston squad out of their teeth, but having to witness a 6th seed to 8th seed collapse, in a matter of two days, would have Red Nation fans pogoing on the panic button. Still, even after letting Luis Scola and Goran Dragic avenge their amnesty and lack of a fourth year, respectively, the Houston Rockets are buckled in the pilot’s seat of their destiny. The right to don the 7th seed sash is only a victory away. The regular season conclusion set in Hollywood couldn’t have been scripted any better. Actually, a Jazz win would set the stage for what many would call “The mother of all that is epic.”
The Rockets made it loud and clear they have zero interest in following the K.I.S.S. method. Showing up against the Suns would’ve clinched the 6th spot and avoided anything related to drama on the final day of the 2012-13 season. But that’s just not the Houston way. It’s like this city’s professional sports athletes get a kick out of us fans ruining our couches with sweat stains. Instead, the Rockets will either fight the second seeded Spurs or the conference’s best Thunder for the prize of staying alive. Oklahoma City is well on their way to a redo with the defending champion Miami Heat. They have one goal in mind and it doesn’t involve getting upset by the youngest team in the NBA. The veteran laden Spurs are a team in a civil war with the injury bug, an annoying insect that had feasted on Rockets players in the recent past. Tony Parker is back but not 100% and their Hall of Fame forward is already on the fast side of he hill’s apex. The Rockets always seem to want to show their I-10 rivals that they’re not just piñatas. I’m sure most fans would agree that San Antonio is as vulnerable as it’s ever been. More unlikely to happen is that the Rockets luckily find themselves back at the 6th spot because of a complete Warrior meltdown. Golden State gets to a final practice vs a Trailblazer team that has already left their room key on the dresser and walked out the hotel door. Unless Portland has an ounce of pride left in them and want to give the Rose Harden loyalists one last thing to cheer about, the W’s are all but locked into their current seed.
I’m not one of those guys who watches ESPN for some Rocket recognition only to be disappointed by a pundit who is openly testifying his bandwagonry for the Los Angeles Lakers and devote entire segments to how and why the purple and gold can pull it off. I’m almost expecting a priest to be invited to the studio for an on-air prayer. Maybe, just maybe a Rockets win would sicken these guys enough to give it a damn rest. But it’s not about them. It’s about the Rockets forcing their presence to be felt. Showing the rest of the league that a new age is abroad. The young running Rockets are relevant and will be for a long, long time.