The bad news is the Rockets have little to no chance of making the playoffs.
The good news is they gained a ball in the Lotto Race.
Steve Francis' three at the buzzer hit back iron and the Nets dealt a serious blow to the Rockets' playoff hopes with a 101-98 win in New Jersey.
The loss is the fifth in the last 7 games for the Rockets, and drops their record to 40-34. It also puts them 3.5 games back of Minnesota, needing to make up 5 losses in the last 8-9 games.
The loss also dropped the Rockets a half-game back of Seattle, who has won 10 of their last 11 ballgames. The Rockets on the other hand couldn't have picked a less opportune time to skid. After winning 16 of 20, the Rockets have dropped 6 of their last 7.
Francis led the Rockets with 28 points, and nailed a pair of free throws with 7.5 seconds left to bring Houston to within one. But Keith Van Horn (19 points, 10 boards) hit two free throws and Franchise's triple at the buzzer was just long.
The guards in fact totalled 61 points. Cuttino Mobley scored 19 and grabbed 8 boards while Shandon Anderson scored 14.
Hakeem Olajuwon added 10 points, 7 boards and 4 blocks while Kelvin Cato was just 1-6 from the floor, but did block 3 shots. The lone bright spot there being Cato has now blocked 8 in his last 2 games.
Lucious Harris and Aaron Williams played key roles for the Nets. Harris (13 points) scored 4 points in the final 2 minutes while Williams had 15 points, 10 boards and 5 blocks and should have had more -- the Rockets had some questionable calls late go in their favor. Williams blocked Mobley twice and Francis down the stretch, and all 3 times fouls were called -- all 3 times they were head-scratchers as to why they were called.
For that matter Hakeem tied up Van Horn in the final seconds for a jump ball, but the refs called a foul in anticipation.... refs just honestly are the worst they've been in this league in years... since I've been watching anyhow.
The Rockets meanwhile are left with 8 games remaining and a damn-near impossible feat ahead of them to make the playoffs. Minnesota would have to lose 5 of their last 9 without a doubt... and that's just if the Rockets run the table and don't lose another game.
They can only blame themselves quite frankly... but hopefully it will make them stronger next season.