Remaining undefeated at home in December, the Kings aim to cut the deficit in the West and sneak into an eighth seed this year. “We want to make the playoffs, that’s our whole goal this year, nothing else. We want to make the playoffs this year and we’re right there,” said Collison at his locker after the game.
Tonight, the Kings took care of business beating the Houston Rockets 107-97. This caps a three-game winning streak for Sacramento and breaks a seven-game losing streak against Houston.
The Rockets fell behind immediately as the Kings started shooting hot. The game was incredibly chippy early and the referee’s called a tight game throughout the evening. Forcing five consecutive turnovers midway through the first quarter, the Rockets were able to go on a 17-2 run and keep the game tied heading into the second.
Turnovers plagued both Sacramento and Houston as the two teams combined for 49 turnovers. Sacramento continually provided a double team defense on James Harden and forced him into seven turnovers.
Ben McLemore continually proves he is a capable defender at the shooting guard position as he held James Harden to just nine of his 33 points and forced three turnovers. McLemore finished the game on 3-4 shooting from the field for eight points and two assists.
The Kings were able to stretch the lead to as much as 11 in the second quarter. Omri Casspi has continually excelled not only in the starting lineup but also under head coach George Karl. Casspi controlled the pace of the second quarter and scored eight of his 19 points. Finishing the night on 3-4 from three-point distance, Omri also snagged six rebounds and dished out six assists.
The Kings maintained the lead throughout the entire third quarter behind the domineering play of DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins was played a majority of the third quarter on the block and caused Dwight Howard to draw his fourth foul in the first 30 seconds of the fourth quarter.
Dwight Howard had a particularly awful night, as he finished with just four points to go along with four rebounds and one blocked shot.
After having a few days off, DeMarcus Cousins found his offensive game again. Cousins shot an atrocious 13-53 while on the road trip against the Celtics, Rockets, and Thunder. Tonight, Cousins finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds on shooting 41 percent from the field and 50 percent on three-pointers.
Heading into the fourth with an eight-point lead, the Kings remained focused and cherished the positive differential. This has been one of George Karl’s biggest critiques of the team is that they do no value leads. The Kings were able to come up with defensive stops and maintained the ten point lead almost throughout the entirety of the quarter.
The win was stamped by a highlight slam dunk from Rudy Gay as he finished the night with six steals to go along with his 17 points.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know the ball went in until after I had gotten up from the floor to shoot my free throws,” Gay laughed after the game.
The Kings now go on a four-game road trip before returning home to play Portland. Going 9-8 since the well documented 1-7 start, the Sacramento Kings are very quietly building some momentum heading into this trip. Just one game out of the eighth seed, the Kings have an important Western Conference game next, against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
(12-14, 5-7 away)
(10-15, 8-7 home)
10:00 PM ET, December 15, 2015
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
Hou: J. Harden 33 Pts, 7 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl
Sac: R. Gay 17 Pts, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 6 Stl, 1 Blk