The Houston Rockets have fallen just short of the postseason.

On Sunday night, the Rockets led the Dallas Mavericks by 22 points on the road. However, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving led a furious comeback to give the Mavericks a 147-136 overtime victory.

The loss was costly for Houston, as it officially eliminated them from postseason contention. They currently sit at 38-40, 11th in the Western Conference. The season’s final home game was on Tuesday against the Orlando Magic, which the Rockets won 118-106.

Despite the Rockets’ failure to qualify for the postseason, several positive developments occurred throughout the season. The team has a fantastic young duo in center Jabari Smith Jr. and power forward Alperen Sengun. They both average 21.1 and 13.8 points per game, respectively. Sengun also led Houston in rebounds per game, averaging 9.3.

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Point guard Fred Van Fleet also succeeded offensively for the team, averaging 16.8 points per game and being a veteran in further developing Smith Jr. and Sengun. Rookie forward Amen Thompson also showed promise throughout the season, including two games in March, where he finished with a season-high 25 points.

Houston was 25-34 after losing to the Phoenix Suns 110-105 on Feb. 29. Their fortunes turned once the calendar flipped to March – they won 13 of 15 in that month to surge back into the playoff race. Some of those wins were against the top teams in the league, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ultimately, the Houston Rockets’ hopes of making the postseason and accelerating their rebuild ended with their blown lead against the Mavericks on Sunday. The good news is that the team has the youth and veteran presence to challenge in the Western Conference for years to come.

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