Rockets make it “rain” 3-pointers, crush the Kings 130-105 on Tuesday night

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Barnes tries to contain Harden Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee

By Charlie O. Mallonee

SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Kings goal of finishing the season with a 41-41 record took a serious hit on Tuesday night when the Houston Rockets beat them 130-105 at the Golden 1 Center. The young, upstart Kings never held a lead in the game. The win gave Houston a four-game season-series sweep over Sacramento.

In his postgame comments, Kings head coach Dave Joerger noted that the Rockets have beat his team by over 20 points on average in all four games this season. He later would point out that the Rockets as a team are staffed with great players.

Why Did the Kings Lose?

Sacramento lost the game because they could not shut down the dynamic 3-point shooting of the Rockets. Houston literally made it “rain” 3-pointers at they attempted 61 shots from behind the arc and hit 26 of them. The 26 made 3-point shots tied the Rockets NBA record for most 3-point shots made in a game that they set against the Wizards back on December 19, 2018, at home in Houston.

The Rockets made 46 of their 94 field goal attempts (48.9%) in the contest. They converted 26 of their 61 3-point field goal attempts (42.6%). Yes, you are reading that correctly. The majority of the Rockets’ field goals made and attempts were from long range. Houston was very happy to trade 3-point baskets for Kings 2-point baskets all night long.

The Kings shot 44.2-percent overall (42/95) and went 7-for-23 (30.4%) from downtown.

Dave Joerger was not happy after the game

“We did not come with the mental or physical attitude of playing with some force and (weren’t) mentally locked in enough. We can’t play that way. We’re better than that. That’s disappointing if we had a hangover from a long trip – a bunch of games – young guys – but we cannot let go of the rope and we’re not going to.”

Top Performers

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Bagley and Capela prepare to battle for the rebound Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee

Kings (38-40)

  • Buddy Hield was the Kings leading scorer with 20 points. He shot 8-for-16 and four of his field goals were 3-pointers. Hield also grabbed seven rebounds and added five assists.
  • Marvin Bagley III put 19 points up on the board to go with eight rebounds.
  • Nemanja Bjelica scored 12 points and went 6-for-7 from the floor.
  • Sacramento outrebounded Houston 51-43.

Rockets (50-28)

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Harden gets ready to score three of his 36 points Photo: Charlie O. Mallonee
  • James Harden was the leading scorer in the game with 36 points, and he made it a double-double by dishing out 10 assists. He went 12-for-19 shooting and seven of those buckets were 3-pointers.
  • Eric Gordon and Danuel House, Jr. each scored 19 points for the visiting Rockets.
  • Chris Paul scored seven points and distributed 12 dimes.
  • Kenneth Faried posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Up Next

The Kings return to action on Thursday night when they will host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Rockets play the second game of a back-to-back on the road in Los Angeles versus the Clippers on Wednesday night.

Kings get winded at 5280 feet and lose to Denver 96-79

by Charlie O. Mallonee

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Zach Randolph scored 11 points and grabbed 9 rebounds on Saturday night Photo: USA Today

NBA teams have only a 33-percent chance of winning the second game of a back-to-back set on the road. Sacramento won in Dallas on Friday night. The odds were against them going into Denver on Saturday which is why they entered the game as a -12.5 point underdog.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Kings had lost their second game of the season as the Nuggets outscored them 96-79. Denver   did not play that spectacular. They just played less sloppy than the Kings did in the game.

For all of the Sacramento rookies, this was their first back-to-back set of games on the road. Add in the fact that the game was played at “mile high” altitude” in Denver and it becomes a real learning situation. This is not an effort to make excuses for the Kings but rather an opportunity to explain the literal uphill battle they faced on Saturday night.

Rebound stats may explain the entire game

The Nuggets out-rebounded the Kings 58-39 in the game. There are very few games where a team can give up 19 more rebounds to their opponents and walk away with a victory.

When the rebounding stats are broken down even further, the impact of Denver’s efforts becomes even greater. The Nuggets pulled down 18 rebounds on offense which created 13 second chance point opportunities. Denver converted eight of the second chance situations which turned into 19 points.

The Kings had only 12 offensive rebounds that turned into 10 points. Eight of those rebounds on offense came in the second half when the Kings had a significant scoring deficit to make up so they did not have the impact they might have had earlier in the game.

The problem — tired legs. You could see that the Kings did not have the spring in their legs like they had in Dallas on Friday night. Fatigue and altitude can be brutal. Yes, the young players will to learn how to deal with these adversities, but that is why fans have been cautioned to remember this is going to be a season of learning.

Top Performances

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Labissiere came off the bench to score 13 points for SAC Photo: USA Today Sports

Kings

  • De’Aaron Fox continued to amaze on Saturday night as he scored a team-high (tied for game-high) 18 points shooting 8-for-13 from the floor. He sank one 3-pointer, grabbed five rebounds and had one assist. He did all of that while being double-teamed by the defense much of the game.
  • Skal Labissiere came off the bench and brought some offense to the game for the Kings. He finished with 13 points in 25-minutes on the floor. He shot 6-for-12 including one 3-pointer. Labissiere also pulled down four rebounds and dished out four assists.
  • Z-Bo showed the young kids how an “O.G” plays in a back-to-back on the road. He put up 11 points in 20-minutes. He also grabbed nine rebounds (four offensive). Randolph spent much of the game being very frustrated with the officials and the lack of foul calls.
  • Rookie Frank Mason III played in his first NBA game and scored seven points.
  • Malachi Richardson saw some playing time most of which came in the fourth quarter and scored eight points.
  • Coach Dave Joerger used all 13 of his active players in the game on Saturday night.

Nuggets

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Faried came off the bench to score 18 points for the Nuggets Photo USA Today Sports
  • Denver had two players who tied for team-high in scoring and game-high in scoring with De’Aaron Fox. Paul Millsap put up 18 points to go with nine rebounds. The hyperactive Kenneth Faried came off the bench to score 18 shooting 7-for-10.
  • Guard Gary Harris scored 17 points going 7-for-11 from the field including three 3-pointers. Early in the game, he just broke loose and worked the backdoor for easy buckets under the basket.
  • Will Barton quietly scored 15 points for the Nuggets. He shot 6-for-13 overall and went 3-for-8 from 3-point land.

Team Performances

It was not a beautiful game for either team.

Sacramento (1-2)

  • The Kings shot just 36.6-percent (31-for-85) for the game. They went just 8-for-23 (34.8-percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
  • Free throw opportunities were in short supply again on Saturday night. SAC went to the line just 13 times in the game and hit nine of those opportunities. They have to increase the number of free throw attempts per game.
  • They dished out 15 assists but turned it over 14 times which resulted in 19 Denver points. That ratio is not acceptable.
  • Rebounding — that has already been discussed.

Denver (1-1)

  • The Nuggets shot an acceptable 43.5-percent (37-for-85) from field. They hit 10-of-30 3-point opportunities (33.3-percent).
  • Denver went 12-for-20 from the charity stripe.
  • Their 58-39 rebound advantage really made the difference in the game for the Nuggets.
  • The Nuggets distributed 25 assists and turned the ball over 16 times. Those TOVs resulted in 13 points for the Kings.

Up next

Sacramento

The Kings will have Sunday off in the Valley of the Sun and then will face the 0-3 Phoenix Suns on Monday night. The Suns lost to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday night 130-88. FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Suns a 66-percent chance to win the game. They make Phoenix -4-point favorite.

Denver

The Nuggets will return to action on Wednesday in Charlotte versus the Hornets. Denver is a 2.5-point underdog according FiveThirtyEight.

Final Note

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Denver head coach Michael Malone Photo USA Today Sports

The rivalry between Denver and Sacramento because they are facing former Kings coach Michael Malone is officially over. No player on the Kings roster was ever coached by Malone. Wow! How quickly things can change in the NBA.

Warriors lose heartbreaker to Mozgov, Nuggets, fail to clinch playoff birth

By Gabe Schapiro

The Golden State Warriors (48-29) lost the Denver Nuggets (34-44) in ugly fashion, 100-99, Thursday night, at Oracle Arena. Losing by one point doesn’t look so bad on it’s face, but the Warriors let a 20-point lead slip away, got out-worked for long stretches, were thoroughly dominated on the glass, and couldn’t convert on their first chance to seal a playoff birth. Stephen Curry nearly saved the day with a last-second floater, but wouldn’t be outdone by Kenneth Faried, who followed with one of his own.

The Warriors played well out of the gate. They quickly built a double-digit lead, a lead that grew to 20 just four minutes into the second quarter. From there the momentum swung to Denver’s favor, and for Golden State it all went down hill. The Nuggets kept chipping away, as the Warriors play slipped. Denver finally grabbing their first lead of the contest half way through the fourth.

Curry did his best Superman impression to try and salvage the win, but came up just short. He scored the Warriors last eight points to bring them back, very briefly giving them the lead. The last two of those points were a thing of beauty. With less then a minute to play, Curry somehow came down with a rebound, took it the length of the court weaving through several defenders, and floated a shot over Denver’s big front court. The shot gave Golden State a 99-98 lead with five seconds to play.

Unfortunately for Curry and the Warriors, Faried countered with his best Kryptonite impression. In those five remaining seconds he received an inbound pass, backed down Draymond Green, got up a floater of his own that he would sink to drown Golden State’s hopes for a win.

Faried may have hit the game winner, but the night belonged to Timofey Mozgov. The big center scored 23 points to go along with a career-high, and an NBA-high this season, 29 rebounds. He also had three blocks and a steal. Faried chipped in a big double-double as well, adding 18 points and 17 boards.

In the losing effort, Curry was the standout, but did struggle with his shot for much of the night in the face of heavy pressure from the Denver defense. He had a team-high 24 points, six assists, and four steals. Klay Thompson was their only other consistent offensive option, contributing 21 points.

Unfortunately Golden State’s other three starters had very poor nights. Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green combined for 14 points, on six-of-15 shooting.

The Warriors will have another shot at clinching tomorrow night in Los Angeles, when they will be facing off with the Lakers at the Staples Center. The game begins at 7:30 PM.