A win over Sacramento and a Warriors loss later in the evening would mean a tie for the sixth seed, and the possibility of not having to play the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.
Houston came into this one with their incredibly disciplined best foot forward, and that's the way they ran throughout.
With three extremely smart offensive players going up against the chronically mentally lapsing Kings, all the Rockets had to do was hit their shots and they were going to have a rather clear path toward victory.
Sacramento bit on pump-fakes all night long, committed silly fouls, and missed ridiculously close shots just to make things harder on themselves.
In the end, the pace ran Sacramento's point total above 100, but they were constantly struggling on offense.
While the Rockets were able to come down, run their offense, and get a good shot off within the first 14 seconds of the shot clock on nearly every possession, Sacramento was hoping and heaving at the ends of the shot clock far too often.
It looks like a sloppy game for Houston in the box score, sending Sacramento to the line for 34 free throw attempts and turning the ball over 19 times, but Sacramento was sloppier.
Houston rode the smart play of James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons, and got a bit of unexpected brilliance off the bench along the way.