Having been blown out of a game that Jeremy Lin had called the season’s “biggest,” the Rockets move to a game they say will be bigger.
They can continue to label games that way the rest of the season until they either clinch a playoff spot or end that pursuit. But as the Rockets host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday trying to come back from Sunday’s 108-78 flop against Golden State, there is nearly as much validity to the top billing of their next game as there was need for a day of hard introspection following the 30-point loss.
Repairs needed to be made, and with 15 games remaining, there is time to make them. The appearance of the Jazz, who have played a large role in defining so many Rockets seasons and playoff hopes, brings an inescapable understanding of the stakes.
“This is definitely a big game for us, probably the biggest game all season,” guard James Harden said. “The last game was a very big game, but this game is even bigger. We have to come out here and play like it. Last game, we didn’t play like it was a big game at all. The last 15 games, the intensity of these games is going to pick up. They’re desperate to get in the playoffs, and we’re desperate to keep our spot. We have to do whatever it takes.”
With a win, the Rockets would have a three-game lead on ninth-place Utah along with the head-to-head tiebreaker.
With a loss, the Rockets’ hold on a playoff spot would become precarious as they try to learn how to win at a time of year when they will be tested in ways they have not been before.
Rockets must raise their game to win a playoff spot
Houston Chronicle | Mar 20