Rockets need to win out or else playoff hopes could vanish

With only three games left, James Harden and the Rockets are currently on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

HOUSTON -- With three games remaining in the regular season, Corey Brewer and the Houston Rockets find themselves in quite the predicament.

“You got to win all three,” Brewer said Saturday. “We lose one, we’re done. We're still a game behind Utah. We got to win the next three and hope to get a little lucky.”

Houston’s problems are so deep, it would take more than a "30 for 30" special to clear them up. Trying to explain the issues or even why they exist can be difficult.

“Yep, it is,” James Harden said. “Mind-boggling.”

Not only does Houston need to win out in order to remain in playoff contention, but a .500 record and potentially jobs -- from the general manager and interim coach to several players on the roster, including pending free agent Dwight Howard -- are on the line.

“I don’t think about that,” Harden said. “I think about tomorrow’s game and how we can win and put ourselves in a really good position to make the playoffs.”

The Rockets host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in what will be Bryant's last visit to Houston. Tickets are still available, but the longest line Saturday afternoon was from fans trying to get some late Justin Bieber tickets.

Concerts will be the last thing on the minds of the Rockets, because a loss on Sunday would render the rest of the regular season insignificant.

Utah, which is at Denver on Sunday, remains one game ahead with three to play. Houston was in a strong position at the start of this week to put itself into the playoffs but lost Wednesday night at Dallas and followed that up with a home loss to Phoenix.

Those losses dimmed the opportunity for a postseason berth and have left the Rockets with little wiggle room.

“You have to remember why you play the game and what brought you to this level,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “You get caught up in the overriding moment and the tension of what you’re fighting for and forget how much fun it is, and you’re at your best when you’re enjoying it, and that’s what it has to be.”