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Jeremy Lin wants Rockets to finish strong no matter the team’s place in the standings

Apr 16, 2013, 9:15 AM EDT

Jeremy Lin, James Harden AP

PHOENIX — The Rockets aren’t overly concerned with playoff seeding as they look ahead to their final game of the regular season, and maybe that’s a good thing considering the hit the team took on the chin from the Suns in Phoenix on Monday.

Houston was unable to match the intensity of their opponent from the opening tip, and allowed the Suns season highs in first quarter points (39) and first half points (67) on the way to a 119-112 loss that was a serious blow to the team’s chances of avoiding Oklahoma City or San Antonio in the first round of playoffs.

“No excuse, just a lack of desire maybe,” Jeremy Lin said afterward of his team’s slow start. “I think that’s kind of been one of our problems all season is just that focus. It usually comes with a younger team [like ours]. At this point of the season, it’s really not an excuse for us. Every game means so much. We’re talking about playoff seeding, we’re talking about matchups — things that are more important than anything we’ve played for all season. So this one hurts.”

The Rockets now find themselves in a situation where it’s more likely than not that they’ll see either the Thunder or the Spurs in the playoffs.

The scenarios for Houston look like this: A loss to the Lakers in the season finale means finishing as the eight seed, because although the Rockets would be tied with L.A. in the standings, the Lakers hold the tie-breaker based on a better record against teams within the conference.

A win over the Lakers, however, would net Houston the seven seed, except in the unlikely event that the Warriors were to lose in Portland, which would get the Rockets back to the much more preferable six spot — something that Lin was quick to point out when asked about the more ominous matchups looming against one of the West’s top two teams.

The matchup in L.A. is an elimination game for the Lakers, so for them, the playoffs begin on Wednesday. Anyone in the Rockets’ locker room who was asked about finishing the season strong for the best possible playoff position said all of the right things, but Lin knows it’s going to be a tall task to match the intensity of the home team on the final night of the regular season.

“They’re going to be tough to guard,” he said. “I know that for a fact. They’re going to run a lot of [Mike D'Antoni] stuff. You have [Dwight Howard] in the middle, you have Pau Gasol, who’s been making a lot of good basketball plays recently. We’re going to have our hands full.”

It may be understandable for the Rockets to overlook a Suns team that didn’t have anything left to play for, but it’s hard to envision them doing the same for Wednesday’s showdown in Los Angeles. Simply put, no one lays down against the Lakers while playing on one of the game’s biggest stages at Staples Center, especially not on national television with a playoff berth hanging in the balance.

Lin understands that the stakes may be higher for the Lakers than his own team in that one, but would still like to finish the regular season on a positive note rather than continuing the slide by dropping four of the team’s final six games heading into the postsason.

“It’ll be a hostile environment,” Lin said. “They’re going to be playing for the playoffs, so in one sense, they may be playing for more than we are. But we really can’t see it like that.”

  1. timb12 - Apr 16, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    His thoughts are……”Linsane” ;)

  2. flyrocket31 - Apr 16, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Start T. Rob hes got athleticism to run with parsons lin and harden. bring Smith off the bench for more energy. take Moteijunas out of the rotation. he’s horrbily inconsistent. finish games with smith and asik.

    • flyrocket31 - Apr 16, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Also go with Terrrence Jones with beverly and delfino off the bench. sit garcia anderson brooks.

      • badintent - Apr 16, 2013 at 7:48 PM

        Is Yao Ming available ? How about Clyde ?

  3. thenew013 - Apr 16, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    i will be rooting for the rockets in the playoffs. i bought in to the linsanity and fear the beard hype before they were even on the same team.

  4. omniusprime - Apr 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Yeah so why didn’t LinStupid play harder Monday night is he wants to be in the playoffs so badly? Because LinStupid is a pathetic excuse for an NBA player who doesn’t deserve to wear an NBA jersey or receive an NBA paycheck for his pathetic play.

    Rest assured the Lakers will destroy LinStupid tonight even without Kobe and the Lakers will earn the 7th seed. Rocket fans can eat their hearts out that Dwight Howard would never stoop to playing in Houston, he’s now a Laker for life. No second coming of Olajuwon for the lowly Rocket franchise.

    A nice prize for the Lakers if they get the 7th seed and get to face off against the flailing Spurs in the first round, a matchup that favors the Lakers. We saw how decrepit the Spurs are Sunday night as the Lakers whipped them.

    Go Lakers!!! Dwight is a Laker for Life!!!

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 17, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      You don’t watch a lot of Jeremy Lin or Rockets basketball, do you?

    • metaman1 - Apr 17, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      Dude, you need to take a chill pill. Your perception of Lin is kinda off the mark. Check his stats for the last couple months. Lin can play in the NBA, and play well. He’s basically got a season and a half under his belt, by all accounts is performing really well. As for Howard, you can keep him.

  5. brotherlove2012 - Apr 17, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Trollin’ around are you?

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