Kings-Rockets Preview

"See you in Golden State," was Jason Terry's message following the Houston Rockets' latest win, alluding to a possible postseason matchup against Stephen Curry and the top-seeded Warriors.

Maybe not if the Rockets can't slow down that other Curry first.

Seth Curry and the depleted Sacramento Kings hope to play spoiler Wednesday night when they visit Houston, which can clinch a playoff spot with a win on the regular season's final day.

The Rockets (40-41) regained control of the Western Conference's eighth and final postseason berth with Monday's 129-105 victory at Minnesota, one day after beating the Los Angeles Lakers 130-110.

They pulled even record-wise with Utah, which lost 101-92 to Dallas, but hold the tiebreaker based on conference records. Houston can wrap up a spot in the first round against Golden State with a victory Wednesday or a Jazz loss to the Lakers later in the night.

It has been a largely uninspiring season for the Rockets after they reached the West finals a year ago. But they played with a sense of urgency Monday when James Harden scored 34 points and Dwight Howard added 19 and eight rebounds.

Houston, which has traded wins and losses in its last eight home games, shot 55.8 percent as Harden made 12 of 21 shots, including 5 of 7 3-pointers. Howard finished 8 of 11, as did Trevor Ariza on the way to 21 points.

''We're trying to make the playoffs. The fire is under us and it's lit,'' said Patrick Beverley, who chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. ''It's not how we wanted it to be at the end of the season where we start to try to do the right things, but better late than never.''

The easy way for the Rockets would be pushing aside Sacramento (33-48), which will be without DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison. All three are being rested after dealing with several nagging injuries this season.

The Rockets won the first two games of the season series, but Sacramento's 107-97 home win Dec. 15 snapped its seven-game skid against Houston.

Harden has averaged 38.7 points in the last seven games of this series, including 35.7 on 52.7 percent shooting this season. He has made 13 of 24 3s with 28 assists in the season series, though he has turned the ball over 19 times.

With a combined 52.8 points, 19.8 rebounds and 19.3 assists missing from their lineup from Cousins, Rondo and Collison, the Kings will likely turn to Curry again.

The third-year pro combined for about 36 1/2 minutes against the Rockets in the season series, but he has ignited Sacramento with an uptick of playing time down the stretch. Curry has scored 20 points in consecutive wins and has averaged 17.5 his last six games, up from 5 per game in his first 37.

He made 6 of 10 3s in Saturday's 114-112 victory over Oklahoma City and tripled his previous career high with 15 assists in Monday's 105-101 win at Phoenix.

''I had the ball, I was able to make some plays and show a different part of my game,'' he said after playing 38 minutes Monday, ''and guys were doing a great job screening for me, finishing shots, stuff like that so they made me look good.''

It's possible this is the final game as Kings coach for George Karl, who has been under fire for much of the season and has had his share of problems with Cousins. The 63-year-old Karl is fifth all-time with 1,175 wins, 35 shy of Pat Riley.

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