Rockets get last NBA playoff spot, Heat take No. 3 in East
A season-long climb from an early hole landed the Houston Rockets in the NBA playoffs.
A stunning collapse couldn't keep the Miami Heat from the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Rockets earned the final postseason spot Wednesday night with a 116-81 victory over Sacramento, giving them the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and officially making Kobe Bryant's final game nothing more than a ceremony.
Houston earned a second shot at Golden State, a year after losing in five games to the eventual NBA champions in the Western Conference finals.
The rest of the West matchups weren't determined until the final hours of the regular season. No. 2 San Antonio will face No. 7 Memphis, third-seeded Oklahoma City will play No. 6 Dallas, and Portland finished fifth and will play the No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers.
Utah would have finished eighth with a Rockets loss and a victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles, but the Rockets won their third in a row to finish 41-41 after a turbulent start that included the firing of coach Kevin McHale.
The East was determined earlier, though with a detour from what looked like a simple path.
Miami was cruising toward a victory in Boston that would have wrapped up the No. 3 seed, but the Heat were limited to five points in the third quarter and lost 98-88. Still, they finished third anyway by a tiebreaker when Atlanta fell to Washington.
The Hawks are the No. 4 seed and will face the No. 5 Celtics, while Charlotte is seeded sixth and opens at Miami.
In the other East series, top-seeded Cleveland will face Detroit, while No. 2 Toronto meets seventh-seeded Indiana.
The playoffs open Saturday.