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The Daily Six Shooter April 6, 2011

1. While the Houston Rockets haven’t been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, last night’s loss to the Sacramento Kings served as the unofficial nail in the coffin for Houston’s season.

Their 104-101 loss in Sacramento put them three games behind the Memphis Grizzlies and four behind tonight’s opponent, the New Orleans Hornets. Memphis has just four games left and New Orleans has five left. While the two teams play each other, neither has a very difficult schedule left.

Because of the way they’ve played and with two of their remaining games against the Rockets and Grizzlies, it seemed probable that Houston could catch the Hornets. But now it would take a near miracle for the Rockets to make the playoffs.

Now the question is whether Rick Adelman will be back next year and if GM Daryl Morey will field the same team that closed out the season at the beginning of next year or if he’ll use some trade chips to try and score a free agent. The thing about trying to score a free agent is… what hole would they fill?

The Rockets look like a solid team offensively with all the right pieces led by a point guard on the upswing in Kyle Lowry, a scorer in Kevin Martin, a savy vet post in Luis Scola, and young guys like Patrick Patterson, Chase Buddinger, and Chuck Hayes. What’s killed them down the stretch and kept them from being the hottest team in the league is their defensive discipline, but that’s a result of their inability to gel as a unit because the team, as it is, has only been together since the trade deadline.

Bring everyone back and Houston is a playoff team with potential to be a contender in the near future.

2. As for the San Antonio Spurs, they got a break not only because Josh Smith didn’t play yesterday for the Atlanta Hawks in their 97-90 win, but the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz at home. So the Spurs are now three games ahead of the Lakers with just four games remaining. Therefore, San Antonio can clinch home court advantage on their last home stand of the season when they host the Kings tonight and then Utah on Saturday. San Antonio’s last two games are at the Lakers and then at Phoenix.

While San Antonio needs to win out to clinch home court advantage throughout the playoffs and get home court in a possible NBA Finals matchup, most people just seem concerned with hanging on to #1 in the West. On top of which, that could come down to the 5th tiebreaker which is wins over playoff-eligible teams in your own conference… which I really don’t feel like figuring out right now.

While it wasn’t the greatest win for San Antonio, it was good to see the Spurs play good defense, a comeback from a halftime deficit, and Manu Ginobili step up in the 4th quarter.

3. In yesterday’s Daily Six Shooter, we talked about the possibility of Gregg Popovich holding DeJuan Blair out in favor of Tiago Splitter getting more minutes. And yet, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News observed, Tiago didn’t play and Blair had limited minutes off the bench.

4. As for the Dallas Mavericks, their had a horrendous end to their latest road trip when they lost three in a row to the Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and Portland Trailblazers. The last was the most painful because it’s a potential first round opponent. But Dallas returns home tonight to play the Denver Nuggets in the start of a three-game homestand. And according to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a little home cooking is just what the Mavs need.

5. The Texas Rangers won again last night and are going for their 6th straight win to open the season. Last night it wasn’t pitching or a big hit that saved them, but a great Julio Borbon catch that ended the inning and kept the go-ahead run off the board. Borbon committed an error on the first play of the season and had nowhere to go but up after that where his defense was concerned. But a big play like that one might keep people off his back about putting Hamilton back in centerfield and moving David Murphy off the bench and into his old spot in left.

6. Finally, congratulations to the Texas A&M Aggies women’s basketball team on their first ever national championship. All they did was knock off a #1 seed Baylor Bears team that had beaten them three previous times this season, a #1 seed Stanford Cardinal team with the only recent history of success against UConn, a Notre Dame team that had just beaten a Huskies squad going for their 3rd straight title.

They had to earn their first championship on a tough road, but they did it. Read our recap and find out how the win affects the Big 12 and the surprising repercussions of rooting for a rival school.

About Javi Perez

Javi Perez is a contributing editor with Playmaker Magazine heading up the sports desk, as well as covering the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Texas Longhorns, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, film, and TV. He currently lives in San Antonio.