The New Orleans Hornets clinched their spot in the 2011 NBA Playoffs with a win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. The Rockets' loss helped out the idle Memphis Grizzlies, who now need just one more win or Houston defeat to claim their own spot.
The Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers are tied for the No. 6 spot at 45-33. With the No. 3 Dallas Mavericks struggling, there could be a real bonus in having the sixth seed over the No. 7 or No. 8 spot. That said, the Oklahoma City Thunder are closing in on Dallas, and pose nearly as big a challenge for teams in this lot as the No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers would.
The Grizzles are one game behind the Hornets and Blazers, but face each team next week. Memphis draws the Kings on Friday; Houston's only hope is for the Grizzlies to lose out and for the Rockets to run the table. That is highly unlikely.