Are the Houston Rockets' play-in dreams dead?

Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets had an up-and-down game last night
Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets had an up-and-down game last night / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets lost a heartbreaker last night. The stakes were high, and the team fell short. After a 113-106 loss to the Timberwolves, the Rockets have fallen three games behind the Golden State Warriors for the final play-in spot.

If the season is over, it's over. The Rockets have a lot to celebrate. After three years in the NBA's basement, they're playing competitive, meaningful basketball in April.

Moral victories are nice. Real victories are better. This organization can hold their heads high, but they still look likely to fall short of their own internal goal.

What happened last night?

Houston Rockets drop contest to contender

This isn't complicated. The Timberwolves are a half game behind the Denver Nuggets for the top seed in the Western Conference. In this instance, the better team won the day.

Realistically, it was a closer game than it should have been. The Rockets held an 11-point lead in the first half. In the end, the Timberwolves would storm their way to a 21-4 run to take the lead back.

From that point on, the Wolves never trailed. The Rockets still made this into a contest. Fred VanVleet was unconscious from three-point range down the stretch of the fourth quarter. The veteran point guard almost shot the Rockets to victory single-handedly.

Did any other young Rockets contribute?

Houston Rockets' Jalen Green has spotty performance

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes, an NBA performance is functionally similar. Did Jalen Green have a good game last night?

Let's start with the basics. Green had 26 points on 10/22 shooting from the field to go with 6 assists. That's solid. He also went 2/11 from long range and turned the ball over 5 times. That's...suboptimal.

Let it be said that Green's ability to create shots on the interior in spite of Rudy Gobert's presence was a positive sign. When Gobert took away the paint, Green was steady from the midrange. This is a positive development from a player who's often been stifled by elite rim protectors throughout his career.

On the other hand, Green's inconsistency from three-point range remains problematic. One of those five turnovers was especially costly. Green threw a lazy lateral pass to Jabari Smith Jr. during a critical possession that Anthony Edwards picked off with ease.

In the aggregate, Green was solid. The Rockets shot 14/48 (29.2%) from long-range. The team as a whole couldn't buy a bucket.

Did it cost them their play-in dreams?

Houston Rockets fall behind in play-in race

Not entirely. Still, a play-in bid is looking increasingly unlikely.

As it stands, the Rockets are three games behind the Warriors for the final spot. Each team has seven games remaining on their schedule. The Rockets will be favorites in two of their games (the Jazz and the Blazers), while the Warriors will be expected to win at least four of theirs against the Rockets, Trail Blazers, and Jazz twice.

That's right, astute reader - the Rockets and Warriors have a game to play. That contest occurs tomorrow night.

If the Rockets lose, their fans may be a little bit heartbroken.