Skip to content

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.”

Latest Posts
  1. Hawks unimpressive, but pull away late for Game 2 win over Wizards

    May 5, 2015, 11:04 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptaxzmmwmdk5ywzmmjhkzgq0otk2zwnjmju2mtc4mza4 AP

    John Wall was a late scratch, but Washington remained within striking distance for most of the contest.

  2. Mike Conley playing Game 2 against Warriors tonight

    May 5, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors - Game One Getty Images

    Grizzlies point guard says foot injury still bothering him

  3. Report: Gregg Popovich reportedly makes about $11 million per year

    May 5, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT

    Gregg Popovich AP

    Only one Spurs player makes more than that

  4. John Wall out for Wizards-Hawks Game 2 tonight

    May 5, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    Huge loss for Washington to put it lightly

  5. PBT Extra: Will Doc Rivers sit Chris Paul in Game 2?

    May 5, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

    Chris Paul AP

    The Clippers are playing with house money after Game 1.

  6. John Wall, Bradley Beal both expected to play in Game 2 for Wizards vs. Hawks

    May 5, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    NBA Play-offs. Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    Wall suffered a wrist injury and Beal suffered an ankle injury in Washington’s Game 1 win.

  7. Isiah Thomas named president, part-owner of WNBA’s New York Liberty

    May 5, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Thomas cost the Knicks $11.6 million following a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007, so putting him in charge of a women’s team seems like an odd choice.

  8. Blake Griffin put up historically-great numbers in Clippers’ last two victories over Rockets and Spurs

    May 5, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game One AP

    Griffin became the first player to notch back-to-back playoff triple-doubles since …

  9. Report: Spurs may look to trade Tiago Splitter

    May 5, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Global Games - Berlin Getty Images

    San Antonio needs to find ways to create cap space this summer.

  10. Report: Bulls management ‘can’t wait to rid itself’ of head coach Tom Thibodeau

    May 5, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Tom Thibodeau AP

    The chatter continues, but what if Chicago makes it to the Finals?

  11. Kyrie Irving hits two tough reverse layups in Cavaliers’ Game 1 loss to Bulls (VIDEO)

    May 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Kyrie Irving AP

    Kyrie finished with a game-high 30 points, and these were two of his most difficult shots.

  12. Jimmy Butler outduels LeBron James in Bulls’ Game 1 win over Cavaliers (VIDEO)

    May 5, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One Getty Images

    LeBron was one assist shy of a triple-double, but shot just 9-of-22 and committed 6 turnovers in Cleveland’s loss.

  13. NBA legend Bill Russell narrates Under Armour’s Stephen Curry MVP spot (VIDEO)

    May 5, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Stonecutter’s Credo continues to be popular in NBA circles.

Featured video

Stephen Curry is a different kind of MVP
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. M. Conley (6337)
  2. K. Love (5273)
  3. C. Paul (4120)
  4. R. Rondo (4112)
  5. J. Smith (3962)
  1. K. Durant (3784)
  2. C. Parsons (3630)
  3. K. Bryant (3616)
  4. P. Beverley (3450)
  5. A. Varejao (3231)