Failure to launch: Kings lose to Rockets 120-113

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Houston Rockets
Photo credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings lost a winnable game in Houston on Saturday night 120-113. It was game that featured some boring play in the first half and uptempo play in the second half. The game turned into a true seesaw battle until the final two minutes of play.

It was a two-point game with 3:11 left to go in the game. DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay were playing with five personal fouls each. Cousins fouled out with 2:14 remaining in the contest. The Rockets responded by hitting 3-point baskets and converting opportunities at the free throw line. In the end, the Kings could only commit fouls and pray for Houston misses which did not happen. The game ended with the Rockets on top 120-113.

The Kings started the game with their 12th different starting lineup of the season due to the loss of Willie Cauley-Stein to injury (dislocated index finger) for the next four to six weeks. Rudy Gay moved to the power forward position and Omri Casspi started at small forward.

Sacramento fell behind quickly in the first quarter shooting an appalling 36.8-percent from the field and going 0-5 for 3-point attempts. The Kings were also hampered by personal fouls. Gay and Cousins both picked two personals in the first period and had spend time on the bench. The Rockets shot just 41.7-percent from the floor but hit on 4-of-12 3-point attemps which helped them establish a 29-16 lead after one quarter of play.

Things turned around for the Kings in the second quarter. Ben McLemore led the attack with 11 points and Omri Casspi added seven points. Sacramento also made 4-of-9 shots from behind the 3-point line. Houston was unable to put together any scoring runs and watched as the Kings outscored them 34-23 in the quarter. The Rockets led the game 52-50 at the half.

Both teams looked like different squads coming out of halftime DeMarcus Cousins had to spend considerable time on the bench after committing his fourth foul. The Kings caught fire shooting 70-percent (14-for-20) from the floor. Rajon Rondo (8), Ben McLemore (6), Kosta Koufos (6) and Darren Collison (5) led the charge for Sacramento. The Rockets shot 58.8-percent behind the scoring of James Harden (10) and Dwight Howard (9). The third quarter ended with the Kings leading the game 85-84.

Kings

Ben McLemore had a breakout game against the Rockets. He scored 19 points hitting on 8-of-14 shots including four successful 3-point attempts. McLemore added nine rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block to his box score. Several times in the flow of the game McLemore was the spark plug that kept the Kings charge going.

Rajon Rondo had another double-double night dishing out 19 assists to go with 13 points. Rondo also recorded four steals. It was the 11th game of the season where Rondo posted 10 or more assists.

Darren Collison came of the bench and scored 18 points in just 21 minutes on the floor. He was an impressive 4-for-6 from 3-point land. Collison also added six assists.

DeMarcus Cousins was hampered by foul trouble the entire game but also just seemed out of sorts throughout the contest. The Kings center scored just 14 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Cousins shot just 4-for-16 and was 0-for-3 for 3-point attempts.

Rudy Gay also had to deal with foul trouble but scored 15 points. He was 6-for-12 shooting from the floor.

Sacramento had solid team numbers for the game. The Kings shot 46.9-percent (46-for-98) overall and 38.5-percent (10-for-26) from 3-point range. They converted 11 of 13 free throw opportunities.

The Kings out-rebounded the Rockets 47-43. Sacramento won the battle of the paint scoring 56 points to just 36 for Houston.

Sacramento recorded 35 assists and turned the ball over just 13 times.

Houston

James Harden led the Rockets scoring attack with 31 points. Harden shot 6-for-14 from the floor and hit on 5-of-6 3-point attempts. He also had nine assists for Houston.

Dwight Howard had a double-double game scoring 22 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. When the Kings employed the “hack-a-Howard” strategy, Howard responded by making 8-of-14 free throws.

Terrence Jones scored 16 points off the bench to join Trevor Ariza (14) and Patrick Beverley (14) in double figures.

Two stats tell the story of the Houston victory over the Kings. The Rockets were successful on 16-of-34 3-point attempts, and they went 32-for-43 from the free throw line. In the end, it was too many 3-point baskets and too many free throws that caused the Kings to lose the game.

What they said after the game

“It was a frustrating game and the free throws … trying to fight through a tough whistle is … I thought we did a great job. I was proud of how they fought. I was proud of how well we played. We got off to a bad start. I thought our bench came in and gave us a big lift. You know we had foul trouble. Everybody kind of gave us something but we ran out of gas in last four or five minutes,” said Kings head coach George Karl after the game.

When asked to analyze Cousin’s performance, Karl said, “I think his jumper is a little rusty from being out for a little bit. I think the foul trouble bothers me. Inconsistent type of rhythm that comes with not being in your normal routine, normal minutes. You know he’s playing against a pretty damned good center. (Dwight) Howard is a pretty respectful dude.

Up next

The Kings headed right to the airport and flew to Oklahoma City where they will play the Thunder (11-8) on Sunday afternoon. OKC is a tough back-to-back on the road opponent.

The Rockets hit the road and will play the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Houston will visit Sacramento on December 15.

Curry Shows Up Harden, Downs Houston 112-92

By Shawn Whelchel

In their first meeting of the 2015 NBA season, Steph Curry gave James Harden a first-hand demonstration as to why he was voted the leagues MVP over the disgruntled Rockets player, dropping 25 points while leading his team to a 112-92 victory on Friday.

The league MVP and NBA Champion shot an efficient 9-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, while also dishing out six assists and grabbing seven rebounds in 27 minutes of play. Curry’s MVP challenger struggled for the second straight game, shooting just 4-for-18 for 16 points on the night in a losing effort.

Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Marreese Speights and Andre Iguodala all finished in double-digits for Golden State, with Speights leading the group with 14 points on the night.

The contest was tight and physical through the first quarter, with Golden State holding on to just a one point lead at the end of the first quarter. But a posterizing dunk from Barnes on Houston center Dwight Howard seemed to energize the team and swing the match in their favor, as they jumped out to a comfortable 57-44 lead at the half.

Golden state would continue to expand upon their lead as the game went on, cruising their way to a 20 point victory by the games end. The team worked their way into a 2-0 record, while denying Houston their first win of the season.

Houston was led by Montrezl Harrell’s 17 points off the bench, followed by Harden’s 16. Even without C Andrew Bogut, Golden State was able to limit Dwight Howard’s impact on the game, holding him to just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds.

The Western conference runner ups were clearly frustrated by being steadily handled by the reigning NBA champions, as both Harrell and Houston coach Kevin McHale were called for technical fouls during the night’s contest. The team suffered a 4-1 series exit at the hands of Golden State before the team moved on to the NBA Finals last season.

The team will now move on to continue their win streak with their second game of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans on the road on Saturday, their first back-to-back games of the season.

 

Warriors ground Rockets, win 17th straight at Oracle

By Joe Hawkes

OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors continue to make winning in the NBA and over the Houston Rockets an easy

Klay Thompson scored 27 points and Stephen Curry finished with 22 points and 10 assists as Golden State established a new franchise record with their 17th consecutive home win with a 126-113 victory over Houston Wednesday in front of the 102nd straight sellout at Oracle Arena.

Golden State completed the four-game sweep over Houston this season, which hasn’t been done since the 1973-74 season.

Draymond Green had 18 points and six rebounds and Harrison Barnes finished with 11 points as Golden State shot 50 percent from the floor (49-for-98), while holding the Rockets to just 42 percent shooting (37-for-87).

“We got the best fans in the league,” Green said. “They make it tough for teams to come and try to beat us.”

Marreese Speights and David Lee finished with nine points off the bench for Golden State. Lee reached the 10,000-point career milestone in the process.

Andrew Bogut also finished with nine points, but recorded 10 rebounds and five blocks while playing 22 minutes.

The Warriors utilized a 26-6 run in the second quarter to push their lead to 62-42 at halftime.

Tempers flared in the third quarter when Curry ran after Rockets’ forward Trevor Ariza bumped the Warriors’ point guard.

“I got a technical for nothing,” said Curry. “Softest technical I’ve ever gotten. I thought it was a cheap shot, even if he didn’t meant it, that’s how I felt at the time.”

Ariza was assessed a technical in fact, Houston had four technical fouls called against them, two of them on forward Josh Smith who was ejected in the third quarter for arguing with referee, Tre Maddox.

Both teams finished even in total rebounds (46), while Golden State finished with the edge in assists (26-23), and Houston leading the turnover battle (19-16).

Golden State was lights out from beyond the arc, shooting 13-for-29 on 3s (44 percent). Houston shot 13-for-32 from downtown (40 percent).

“I thought we played well tonight, but we could’ve ended the game better,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “We didn’t close the game like we normally do, but we had a big lead so we were able to ride it out.”

Golden State biggest lead was 30 points.

Houston (29-14) just didn’t seem to have it again against Golden State Wednesday night.

Outside of James Harden’s game-high 33 points, Corey Brewer (20 points) and Jason Terry (14 points), no other Rockets players scored more than nine points.

Center Dwight Howard finished with seven points and 11 rebounds while battling foul trouble. Howard also picked up a first quarter technical and was clearly frustrated for the remainder of the game.

“They play hard, and fast,” said Houston head coach Kevin McHale. “They make you make plays, they defend, and they pressure you. Give them credit for playing a great game.”

Golden State (34-6) joins just 10 teams since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 to win 34 of their first 40 games of the season. At 19-1, the Warriors sport the best home record in the league.

“Teams are going come in a give their best effort,” Bogut said. “We’ll bring our game and continue to play hard and tough.”

The Warriors continue their five-game homestand Friday night with their I-80 brethren, Sacramento Kings visiting Oracle Arena.

 

 

Warriors ground Rockets, nab 14th straight win

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — Klay Thompson scored 21 points and Harrison Barnes and Stephen Curry each finished with 20 points as the Golden State Warriors finished the game on a 22-7 run and took down the visiting Houston Rockets 105-93 Wednesday night in front of 19,596 fans at Oracle Arena.

The win extended Golden State’s franchise record streak to 14 games, and improved the Warriors to an NBA-best 19-2 record.

“It took so long for us to break through tonight, that’s a helluva team,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who became the first coach in NBA history to win 19 of his first 21 games. “I thought we struggled a bit, but we were able to get the ball moving.”

Playing without center Andrew Bogut due to right knee tendinitis, Golden State relied on small ball going with Festus Ezeli at center to start the game, but ended the game with Draymond Green (11 points) at center, and Barnes at power forward.

The result: Golden State outscored Houston 32-17 in the fourth quarter, and shot 70 percent (14-of-20) from the floor, while playing lock-down defense. The Dubs held Houston in check in the fourth quarter, limiting the Rockets to just 31.6 percent (6-of-19) shooting.

James Harden scored 20 of his game-high 34 points in the first half, while Trevor Ariza and Donatas Motiejunas both finished with 18 points for the Rockets (16-5), who saw their four-game winning streak snapped.

Dwight Howard (right knee) missed his ninth straight game for Houston.

Both teams finished with 15 turnovers.

“We knew with Bogut out, we needed everyone to play well and we did,” said Barnes, who also had seven rebounds. “We had to grind out this game…we’ve been through a lot, but we got a lot of guys who can come in and contribute.”

Marreesse Speights finished with 15 points and eight rebounds and Shaun Livingston scored eight points off the bench.

Kerr knows its all about the team.

“It means that I’m the luckiest head coach in history…it’s fun to come into work everyday to get ready for the next game and work with these players.”

The Warriors will try to continue their winning streak Saturday in Dallas.

Houston Stave Off Kings Comeback, Win 102-89

By Shawn Whelchel

The Sacramento Kings tried to fight through tired legs on their second game of a back-to-back matchup on Wednesday, but ran out of steam as the Houston Rockets earned a 102-89 victory.

Sacramento dug themselves an early hole, as a lack of scoring and easy offense by Houston gave them as large as a 22-point lead in the first half of play. The Kings continued to find their rhythm on offense while pulling to within striking range of the James Harden lead Rockets, but ultimately stalled short of amassing a comeback as a 16-point fourth quarter sealed their fate.

With center Dwight Howard sitting out tonight’s contest with a knee injury, shooting guard James Harden was able to let loose, heaving 31-shots for 26-points on the night to lead his team in scoring. Without their down-low presence, the Rockets lived behind the arc, connecting on 12-of-25 attempts with guard Isaiah Canaan earning 18 of his 24 points from three point range.

On the other side of the court, big man DeMarcus Cousins kept the Kings in the game with 29-points on 9-of-18 shooting while Sacramento was forced to play without starters Rudy Gay and Darren Collison for the second straight game, as they continue to be plagued by injuries.

While the Kings managed to scrap their way to just a one-point deficit in the third quarter, their sloppy play proved too much to overcome, as Houston benefited from 21 Sacramento turnovers on the night, which they converted into 32 points to back their winning effort.

After jumping out to a hot start, the loss drops the now 9-6 Kings to fourth place in the Pacific division, ahead only of the bottom-dwelling Los Angeles Lakers who sit with a 3-12 record on the season. The Kings will look to bounce back on Friday, as they hit the road to take on the San Antonio Spurs

Lee led Warriors earn ugly win, outlast Rockets in OT, 102-99

By Gabe Schapiro

The Golden State Warriors (33-22) didn’t always make it look pretty, but as the saying goes, a win is a win. On Thursday night, at Oracle Arena, they beat the Houston Rockets (37-18) for the first time this season, 102-99, in overtime. Both offenses struggled for much of the game, in what often came down to isolation plays for James Harden against isolation plays for David Lee. When the dust settled, Golden State had grinded out a tough win.

The Warriors had their customary slow start to the game. Through 12 minutes of play they only trailed by four, but had only gotten eight points from their starters, compared to 12 points from their bench. Both teams were plagued by bad turnovers, miscues, and missed open looks.

The Dubs rebounded a bit in the second, turning the four point deficit into a four-point lead at halftime. Surprisingly the two foes star guards, Stephen Curry and Harden, had extremely quiet starts. Heading into the locker rooms they had only accounted for five points apiece. They would both come alive in the stretch run.

The sloppy but close play continued. Heading into the fourth quarter Golden State held on to their four-point lead, but it wasn’t a lead they held with confidence. Sure enough, in the fourth the Rockets clawed their way back, tying the game back up halfway through the quarter. In the waning minutes the two sides traded blows. Harden made one of his many big shots, a 23-foot jumper with 6 seconds left, to give Houston an 89-87 lead. Curry responded with a beauty of his own, a left-handed floater in traffic that arced over the skyscraper that is Dwight Howard, and sent the game into overtime.

In extra time, Curry again came up big and gave Golden State the quick lead with a three-pointer, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Jermaine O’Neal, starting in the place of the still injured Andrew Bogut, had the play of the game. With 23 seconds left in OT, the Rockets’ Chandler Parsons drove hard to the basket, and O’Neal elevated to meet him at the basket and ferociously blocked the shot.

Curry made four of four free throws, and Draymond Green made two more, to ice the victory in the waning seconds.

Curry made the big shots late, but it was Lee who was practically the entire Warriors offense for long stretches of the game. He finished with a team-high 28 points, to go along with 14 rebounds. Curry’s strong second half gave him 25 points and six assists.

Iguodala had a relatively quiet night outside of some big points in OT, but still filled up the stat sheet. He compiled 11 points, eight boards, and seven assists. Guard Steve Blake made his debut in a Golden State uniform after the trade that sent him over from the Los Angeles Lakers, and he finished with three points, two rebounds, and one assist in 18 minutes off the bench.

For Houston, Harden led the way with a game-high 39 points, 34 of which came in the second half and overtime. Chandler Parsons had a strong game, adding 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Dwight Howard had a dismal shooting night, hitting just 4-13 shots, but made his impact felt with 21 rebounds and four blocks.

The Warriors are back in action this Saturday, when the Brooklyn Nets come to town. The game begins at 7:30 PM.

Kings Handle Houston 106-91

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings took the floor on Sunday against the Houston Rockets and looked like an entirely different team than the one that lost to Phoenix on Friday. They moved the ball on offense, blocked shots, made steals and played solid defense. The Kings beat the Rockets 106-91 because they played like a different team.

The game came down to the fact that Sacramento’s big three – Cousins, Gay and Thomas outplayed Houston’s big three of Howard, Harden and Parsons. The Kings big three outscored the Rockets big three 66-57.

Rudy Gay had a big game in his Sacramento home court debut. He scored 26 points (14 in the first quarter), shot 50.0% (10-20) from the floor, pulled down 5 rebounds, added four assists, made four steals and had one blocked shot. Yes, Rudy Gay is a difference maker for this Kings team.

DeMarcus Cousins posted a double-double, 21 points and 10 rebounds, despite not scoring his first points until 6:01 in the second quarter. Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points, had eight assists and made two steals in his 41 minutes on the floor.

Dwight Howard scored 13 points for the Rockets. He really hurt his team at the free throw line where shot 5 for 13. “Hack-a-Howard” looks like a solid defensive plan.

Harden put up 25 points and was 3 for 9 from 3-point land. Chandler Parsons recorded 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes of playing time.

The Rockets jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first quarter. It looked like Houston might make it an early runaway. Then, Rudy Gay made a steal and a score that led the Kings on a 6-0 run. Gay, in his home debut, kept the Kings in the game with 14 first quarter points. Sacramento needed that from Gay as Cousins was held scoreless in the first period. At the end of one, the game was tied at 28 all.

The second quarter started off with the teams trading easy baskets. Derrick Williams led the Kings early in period and ended the first half with nine points. Isaiah Thomas hit a 3-pointer and was fouled. He hit the free throw for the rare 4-point play. Cousins scored his first points with 6:01 left in the half on a breakaway dunk. Sacramento opened up a 48-38 lead. The Kings also helped themselves from the free throw line. The Kings shot 16 for 19 (84.2%) from the line while Houston went just 10 for 20 (50.0%) from the stripe. Dwight Howard went 3 for 8 for free throws.

At the half, the Kings led the Rockets 57-49. Sacramento held Houston to just 21 points in the second quarter.

James Harden opened up the third quarter with a long 3-pointer. The Kings answered with an “alley oop” from Isaiah Thomas to Rudy Gay. At 10:54, Harden rolled his ankle while driving the lane. He shot two free throws one footed and left the game. The Rockets responded by stepping up their game and cut the Kings lead to one, 61-60. The Kings woke up and started scoring. Dwight Howard continued to kill his team from the charity stripe. Sacramento made steals, blocked shots and make baskets that allowed them to open up a 10 point lead. Harden returned at 5:26 but was obviously not at 100%. The third quarter ended with the Kings leading 81-71.

The Rockets made a mini run to open the fourth quarter cutting the Kings lead to 81-75. Howard continued to shoot poorly from the free throw line. The Kings settled down and opened up a 91-78 lead. Cousins, Thompson and Gay continued to break down the Houston defense and score baskets down low. The Rockets started looking tired, Harden was quiet and the Kings opened up a lead that they would never relinquish. Sacramento won the game 106-91.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said, “I felt better about the defense. We must have had a great film session.” Malone felt his team was ready to play.

Malone also stated, “I want DeMarcus (Cousins) or Rudy (Gay) on the floor at all times. Rudy makes us tougher to guard.”

With his team facing four games in five days on the road, Malone is hoping that the tough road trip will help his team build chemistry.

Note: Quincy Acy saw his first playing time as King versus the Rockets. He played 12 minutes, scored four points, had three rebounds and blocked one shot. Aaron Gray did not play on Sunday, but Malone indicated that Gray would see action on the road trip.

 

 

Warriors Comeback Bid Falls Just Shy as Harden, Houston Best Dubs 116-112

By Matthew Harrington

The Golden State Warriors comeback bid fell just short Friday night at Oracle Arena, as the Dubs fell to the Houston Rockets 116-112. The Rockets’ James Harden had a game-high 26 points while David Lee led Golden State with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Houston (16-8) held a slim 30-29 lead after the first 12 minutes before rocketing off in the second quarter to a 58-51 halftime advantage. The visitors would add another two points to their lead after three-fourths of play for a 82-73 edge. The Warriors (13-11) outscored Houston 39-34 in the final frame but ran out of time to complete the comeback.

Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes also notched double-doubles for Golden State as Barnes had 20 points and game-high 12 rebounds while Bogut had 11 boards to go with 10 points on the night. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were a combined 2 of 12 from beyond the arc. Houston forward Chandler Parsons added 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting and Dwight Howard reeled in 11 rebounds. He was also an astonishing seven-for-seven from the charity stripe.

The Warriors have now dropped 18 of their last 22 games against Houston dating back to January 29, 2008. They will look to bounce back Sunday in Phoenix as they take on the Suns.