NBA DAILY DRIBBLE: Rockets send Spurs crashing out of the Playoff picture

San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets

NBA results, March 13, 2018

Houston Rockets 109 – San Antonio Spurs 93

Milwaukee Bucks 121 – Memphis Grizzlies 103

OKC Thunder 106 – Sacramento Kings 101

Portland Trail Blazers 115 – Miami Heat 99

Three things that happened in the NBA today

1. Spurs in danger of missing the Playoffs

The Houston Rockets continue to win. But that’s no surprise. After their winning streak was halted by the Toronto Raptors, the Rockets are building steam for another long run. They’ve not strung up their their second straight win against the San Antonio Spurs. Not only do they continue to pace the league but also extend their lead over the Golden State Warriors.

The Rockets got big games from James Harden and Chris Paul as they routed the Spurs. Harden had a game-high 28 points even if he shot only 2/11 from beyond the arc. He made up for it by going a perfect 14/14 from the line.

Paul was on fire in the game. He scored 18 points on 72% shooting with two treys. The veteran point guard added nine assists.

Oh, both of them got their numbers in only three quarters.

The bigger story in the game is that the San Antonio Spurs have lost three straight games. This loss to the Rockets stings doubly because it sends them crashing all the way down to the 10th spot in the West.

Just let that sink in for a bit. If the Playoffs started today, the Spurs wouldn’t be part of it. There are full-grown, working adults who weren’t even born yet the last time San Antonio missed the Playoffs.

Thankfully, the Playoffs don’t start today. The good news is the Spurs still have 15 games to make it to the post season. The bad news, they have the toughest schedule in those remaining games. They’re also going up against four or five teams all vying for two slots. The West is brutal this year.

Here’s a matrix showing that in the last 17 games of the season for San Antonio, they’re going to face 14 teams above .500 and only 3 teams below that mark. They’ve faced the Thunder and the Rockets leaving them 15 teams (12 of which are above .500) to take down in order to make the Playoffs.

Kawhi Leonard is targeting a return this week which is good for the Spurs. They need all the help they can get. But Leonard hasn’t played in nearly two months. Will he be in game shape, no, Playoff shape to lead San Antonio?

Right now, things aren’t looking good for the Spurs.

2. Brandon Jennings is back!

Life comes at you fast if you’re Brandon Jennings.

A few months ago, he was playing in China which didn’t totally pan out. Last month he was playing for the Wisconsin Herd in the G-League hoping for a call-up. Just yesterday, the Milwaukee Bucks signed Jennings to a 10-day contract.

Today, Jennings does this:

That might be an anomaly. It realistically isn’t sustainable for Jennings to be flirting with a triple-double for the rest of his 10-day run with the Bucks. But that game was a statement.

The Bucks could use his playmaking. If not, his other teams, the Knicks and the Wizards definitely need a point guard. Jennings still belongs in the NBA.

3. Are the Trail Blazers legit?

When Portland took over the third spot in the West, it was attributed to how close the Playoff race is in the conference. As shown by the Spurs’ loss today, one win or loss can move needles.

But 10 games later, the Blazers are still winning and they’re slowly extending their lead over the rest of the field. They’re now two games ahead of the fourth place OKC Thunder. They’ve strung up 10 straight wins, the longest running streak in the league.

Damian Lillard is playing as well as any other point guard right now, making his proclamation as being one of the elite PG something to seriously consider. He led Portland once again with another monster performance.

With their 10th straight win, two things are sure: the Blazers are legit and Lillard deserves some MVP love.

Did an NBA superstar get ejected today?

No. But Russell Westbrook balled out and got his 99th career triple-double.

Photo from Getty Images

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