NBA playoff picture: Rockets moving up, Jazz free falling behind Lakers in West


The Rockets won their third straight game on Sunday and are now a half game out of the No. 6 seed. Meanwhile, the Jazz continued their free fall by losing their fourth straight.

Thanks to James Harden's heroics against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, the Houston Rockets won their third straight game and now sit just a half game behind the Golden State Warriors for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. The Rockets have also given themselves a nice little three-game cushion over the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 7 seed.

As for those Lakers, it's looking more and more like it will be the Dallas Mavericks rather than the Utah Jazz who will have to be worried about for that eighth and final spot out West. The Jazz fell to the Mavs on Sunday, which marks their fourth straight loss as the season continues to slide away. Both Utah and Dallas are now 34-36, two games behind Los Angeles for the final playoff spot.

At the top of the conference, the Spurs' loss to the Rockets has once again opened the door for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder routed the Portland Trail Blazers, moving to just 1½ games out of the No. 1 seed. The Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies were all idle on Sunday, so one game still separates those three teams.

Here are the full West standings:

Western Standings

San Antonio Spurs 70 53-17 .757
Oklahoma City Thunder 71 52-19 .732
Denver Nuggets 71 49-22 .690
Los Angeles Clippers 70 48-22 .686
Memphis Grizzlies 69 47-22 .681
Golden State Warriors 71 40-31 .563
Houston Rockets 70 39-31 .557
Los Angeles Lakers 70 36-34 .514
Utah Jazz 70 34-36 .486
Dallas Mavericks 70 34-36 .486
Portland Trail Blazers 70 33-37 .471
Minnesota Timberwolves 68 24-44 .353
Sacramento Kings 71 25-46 .352
New Orleans Hornets 70 24-46 .343
Phoenix Suns 71 23-48 .324

More from SB Nation:

Sunday's March Madness TV schedule

How the NBA can compete with NCAA's one-and-done stupidity

An open letter to NBA nerds at the start of March Madness

Derrick Rose: "I just know I'm close"

Andrew Sharp: LeBron is our MJ

The best NBA draft prospects of March Madness

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