For some strange reason the Sacramento Kings bring their A-game every time they face the Rockets. Tonight, was no different as the Kings defeated the Rockets 106-91.
The Rockets came in with no Jeremy Lin (back spasms), an ill Terrence Jones (flu), and other players banged up and actually managed to come out of the game worse. In the third quarter, Harden went down hard on his ankle and it clearly bothered him throughout the game. After hitting two free throws on one foot, Harden went to the locker room to get it check out. He would return, but left again in the fourth after a poor second half.
With Omer Asik out and the Rockets facing DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard could not afford to pick up two quick fouls, but that’s exactly what he did. Howard left just 5 minutes into the first quarter, and didn’t return until a quarter of the way into the second. With Howard on the bench and Jones ill, it was Harden and Parsons who led the way in the first quarter, scoring 21 of the team’s 28 points to keep the score even at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter was not kind to the Rockets. The Rockets went five minutes without an official basket, and even missed NINE straight FT’s. The Rockets had 11 turnovers and were just 3-11 from beyond the arc, yet were only down 8 at the half.
The second half wasn’t much better as the Rockets still couldn’t connect from three. The Rockets kept hanging around but the Kings finally pulled away in the fourth quarter. Houston finished shooting just 41.3% from the field, and were unable to connect from distance all game (7-27, 25.9%) which continues to be a make-or-break stat for the Rockets. They also continue to struggle with turnovers, adding another 17 to their total.
Harden led the Rockets in scoring with 25 points on 8-18 shooting, including just 3-9 from beyond the arc. Dwight Howard finished with just 13 points and 10 boards, and his free throw struggles came back as he finished just 5-13 from the charity stripe. The Rockets as whole struggled from the line, hitting just 22 of 38 for a miserable 58%.
The Rockets have a three day break before they face the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday Night. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 PM and can be seen on ESPN and CSN Houston.