SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings were already looking to the future before their season finale even started.

For Houston, that comes this weekend with the start of the playoffs. For Sacramento, it’s once again wait until next season.

Willie Cauley-Stein had 22 points and 11 rebounds to help the Kings finish the regular season with a 96-83 victory over the short-handed Rockets on Wednesday night.

“We have a positive direction that we’re going as a franchise,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “Our guys feel it. Our guys are going out and competing on a regular basis and showing our fans we’re coming. I don’t know how long it will be, but we’re going to go out there and compete and keep getting better.”

With Houston (65-17) already having wrapped up the best record in the NBA, coach Mike D’Antoni opted to rest most of his top players, including starters James Harden, Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela. The top-seeded Rockets will open the playoffs at home this weekend against Minnesota.

“We have to get ready,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They’re a good team and they fought their way into it. Good for them. We have to play our game and be ready.”

The Kings took advantage of Houston’s depleted lineup and ended another disappointing season off by snapping a seven-game skid against the Rockets. Sacramento finished with a 27-55 record in coach Dave Joerger’s second season, its worst mark since going 24-58 in 2010-11.

The Kings never trailed after the first quarter and coasted to the win.

Gerald Green scored 31 points and R.J. Hunter added 19 to lead the Rockets.
Associated Press