With the Kings hamstrung by in-game injuries suffered by Cousins
and Gay, the Houston Rockets took advantage and rolled to a 119-98
Cousins, the Kings' leading scorer and rebounder, and Gay, fresh off
a 41-point, eight-rebound performance Tuesday night in New Orleans,
were lost in the first half and did not return. Gay, a forward,
departed with a left Achilles injury at the 6:01 mark in the first
quarter while Cousins, the starting center, limped off after
spraining his left ankle with 7:17 left in the second. Sacramento
(15-26) scuffled without them.
"DeMarcus hurt his ankle and only played 10 minutes and Rudy hurt
himself early in the game and they lost a lot of size," Rockets
coach Kevin McHale said. "When they have those two out there, it's a
different game. We had to keep playing and I thought we had some
really good stuff."
The Rockets (29-15) dominated the interior, recording 66 points in
the paint, including 42 in the first half en route to a 55-44 lead
at the break. Without Cousins and his 11.7-rebound average, Rockets
center Dwight Howard ruled the lane with 26 points, 13 rebounds and
Houston guard James Harden orchestrated the offense masterfully,
pairing 24 points (including 10-for-10 shooting from the foul line)
with nine assists. The Rockets missed 23 of 31 3-point attempts, but
their advantage inside plus 29 fast-break points proved more than
Houston forward Chandler Parsons (19 points, 10 rebounds) also
chipped in a double-double. Forward Omri Casspi (20 points, 12
rebounds) reached the benchmark off the shortened Houston bench.
Even without injured forward Terrence Jones, the team's
second-leading rebounder at 7.7 per game, the Rockets finished with
a plus-13 advantage on the glass. They also outrebounded Portland
52-37 on Monday night without Jones (left thigh bruise) in their
"I knew us guards had to get in there and then rebound," Parsons
said. "They were a big, physical team and we knew we lost to them
twice and we wanted to be more physical tonight. And without
Terrence, we knew that myself and James and the guards had to get in
there and rebound."
[to top of second column]
Reserve forward Derrick Williams scored 22 points for
Sacramento, including 12 in the third quarter, and grabbed 11
rebounds filling in for Gay. Guard Isaiah Thomas had 20 points
and six assists as Sacramento lost to the Rockets for the first
time in three meetings this season.
"It hurts all of us, especially when you're missing 40 points a
game between the two of them," Williams said. "And it really
hurts the whole game plan."
Thomas' three-point play at the 4:23 mark of the first quarter
gave the Kings their last lead at 17-15. Houston responded by
closing the period with a 14-5 run and bridged the opening two
quarters with a 13-0 blitz that built its lead to 38-24 when
Howard converted a hook shot.
One minute later, Cousins rolled his ankle barreling down the
lane, ending his Sacramento-era record of 15 consecutive
double-doubles in the process. He finished with two points and
four boards in 10 minutes.
"We won't know until (Thursday), until we get home and get more
testing done as to the severity of those injuries," Kings coach
Michael Malone said. "But obviously a big loss when you lose
both of those guys in the first half. Unfortunately our other
guys that were able to play didn't respond."
NOTES: Kings F Rudy Gay has drawn raves for his efficient play
since his acquisition from the Toronto Raptors, but Sacramento
coach Michael Malone isn't surprised that Gay is averaging 21
points on 52.5 percent shooting in 20 games with the Kings. "We
knew we were getting a very talented player and we weren't
worried about the 38 percent that he was shooting in Toronto and
the 18 or 19 shots he was taking per game because we knew that
he wouldn't get as many shots and we'd put him positions where
he could be a little bit more efficient and effective," Malone
said. ... One lasting image from Sacramento's 110-106 win in
Houston on Dec. 31 was Kings G Isaiah Thomas penetrating the
lane and forcing Rockets C Dwight Howard to leave his man to
help. Multiple defensive breakdowns ensued. "We've got to do
better at keeping the ball in front of us," Rockets coach Kevin
McHale said. "Our problem doesn't come from help the helper as
much as it does from blow-bys and guys playing downhill."
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.