Kings unable to continue hot start as they lose to Rockets 122-119

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By Ana Kieu

The Sacramento Kings hit the road to open a back-to-back series against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on Thursday evening. The Kings looked to continue their hot start, but ended up losing to the Rockets 122-119 in the first game of a back-to-back series.

The Kings rolled with their tried-and-true starting lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III, and Richaun Holmes. But it wasn’t enough to contain James Harden and the Rockets.

The Kings were off to a fast start. Harrison Barnes opened the scoring with a 3-pointer at 11:31 of the first quarter. Buddy Hield made a 2-point shot tied the game at 14 with 6:45 left in the first. Former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who signed a one-year contract with the Rockets on December 1, missed a second free throw that could’ve tied the game, and the Kings held onto a 33-32 lead at the end of the first.

Corey Joseph entered the game for De’Aaron Fox to start the second quarter. The Kings went on an 8-2 run late in the second. Harrison Barnes made a driving layup, Richaun Holmes made a pullup jump shot off a pass from De’Aaron Fox, and Buddy Hield hit two 3-pointers. However, the Kings’ 4-point lead quickly disappeared as James Harden made a driving layup and a 2-point shot to give the Rockets a 63-59 lead at halftime.

The Rockets went on a 9-2 run to start the second half, but the Kings caught up late in the third quarter. Harrison Barnes made a pair of free throws to pull the Kings within 2 with 6:46 left in the third. De’Aaron Fox hit a 3-pointer to give the Kings an 87-86 lead with 35.9 seconds left in the third. Fox then missed a 2-point shot, and the Kings settled for an 87-86 lead after three quarters.

With the score tied at 90, Houston decided to challenge the John Wall shooting foul. After further review, the challenge was ruled successful. As a result, the play was a Harrison Barnes tip and it counted. The Kings led 92-90 at 10:40 of the fourth quarter.

Cory Joseph made a 2-point shot to give the Kings their biggest lead of the game, 99-92, with 8:24 left in the fourth. The Rockets had some dry spells, but they bounced back to beat the Kings 122-119 for their first win of the season. The Rockets moved to 1-2.

The Kings fell to 3-2. Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist. Richaun Holmes had 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 assists. De’Aaron Fox had 22 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. Buddy Hield had 19 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. Tyrese Haliburton had 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist. Cory Joseph had 9 points, 5 assists, and 1 assist. Nemanja Bjelica had 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. Marvin Bagley III added 4 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist.

The Kings wrap up their back-and-back series against the Rockets on Saturday, January 2 at 2 pm PT.

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