HOUSTON — Houston coach Rick Adelman has started reminding his team what's at stake beyond preserving one of the NBA's all-time winning streaks.
That seems to be the only pep talk the Rockets need.
Tracy McGrady scored 19 points in less than three quarters and Houston routed cold-shooting New Jersey 91-73 on Monday night for its 19th consecutive victory, matching the third-longest winning streak in league history.
The Rockets won their 10th straight game by double digits, tying an NBA record last set by the Nets in 2004. They also won their 13th in a row at the Toyota Center, the franchise's longest home-court streak since the 1985-86 team won 20 consecutive games at The Summit.
Most importantly, the Rockets closed within one game of the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference. And that's the number Adelman keeps emphasizing to his team.
"I told them [Monday] they have a double whammy going," Adelman said. "Not only do you have a chance to do something remarkable and get this streak going and keep it going, but also, every time you win, you keep shortening the season and you keep that lead that you have over other people and you're moving up the standings."
The Lakers play in Houston on Sunday, but the hype for that showdown can wait.
Houston can match the second-longest victory streak in NBA history with a win in Atlanta on Wednesday night. The Milwaukee Bucks won 20 in a row during the 1970-71 season.