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Houston Rockets in rarified air

Like just about everyone else who keeps an eye on the NBA, I figured when Yao Ming made his usual early exit that the Houston Rockets would pretty much pack it in, especially since they play in the Western Conference, where you could win 60 percent of your games and still not make the playoffs.

Instead, the Rockets are turning in a season for the ages.  Last night, they won their 20th in a row, 83-75, over Atlanta.  That ties Houston for the second-longest winning streak in the history of the league (the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks also won 20 in a row) and leaves them behind only the monster record of the 1971-72 Lakers who won those 33 straight games.

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Last night, Tracy McGrady (right) and the rest of the Rockets won ugly making just 30 of 90 shots, but with a bit of timely board work and some solid defense at the end, managed to hold off the Hawks.  The point has been made that the two previous teams that won at least 20 in a row also went on to win the NBA championship.  Of course, in the case of the early 1970s Lakers (Wilt Chamberlain, et al.), they were a dominant team that won 69 games and the Bucks the following season (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) won their division by 15 games.

That's not exactly the case this season. Despite the winning streak, the current Rockets are only tied for the fourth-most wins in the NBA at the moment (behind Boston, Detroit and Los Angeles and even with San Antonio).

Photo credit: Dave Einsel/AP

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