The Rockets offensive surge continued for the third consecutive game as they walloped the Sacramento Kings, 119-98.
Houston took control of the game midway through the first quarter and never looked back even though they were very shorthanded on Wednesday night, with five players out with injuries. Facing a Kings team that had already beaten them twice, the injury situation surely could have been an advantage for the Kings. However, less than 17 minutes into the game that all changed.
With the Kings up 12-9 midway through the first quarter, their second leading scorer, Rudy Gay left the game with a left Achilles injury and would not return. The Rockets were able to shut down the Kings defense the rest of the first quarter, allowing them to make just 4-of-13 shots and the Rockets took a 29-22 lead into the second period.
With the Rockets leading 38-27 nearly five minutes into the second quarter, Kings center and leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins was driving down the middle of the lane when he turned his left ankle badly and when he was able to get to his feet, he went straight to the Kings locker room and also would not return.
That made things difficult on the Kings offense, but even with them, they had shown little ability to slow down the Rockets and tonight was no different. Houston piled up their fourth highest point total of the season and nearly had four players post double-doubles.
“We had 29 assists tonight. That made a big difference,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “The guys were looking for him (Dwight Howard). I thought we had good ball movement. I thought our defense at times was really, really good tonight. Guys were just making simple plays. Our starting back court had seventeen assists between Pat (Beverley) and James (Harden). When you do that, good stuff is going to happen.”
In Beverley’s second game back from his broken right hand, he scored just six point, but had eight assists and two steals and was a (plus-31) for the game. He’s now (plus-57) in his last two games. James Harden added nine assists and scored 24 points.
Dwight Howard made 10-of-13 shots and scored 26 points, despite making just 6-of-17 free throws. He also had 13 rebounds. He was one of three Rockets to post double-doubles. Chandler Parsons had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Omri Casspi came off the bench for a season-high 20 points and a career-high tying 12 rebounds.
“We've been playing good basketball,” Casspi said. “We wanted to continue to play good basketball after the Portland game. We've had a lot of guys hurt, lot of guys down. Whoever is out there is playing hard and is playing for his teammates and that's what makes you successful.”
The only time the Rockets had more than four healthy players on their bench tonight was during timeouts. Terrence Jones missed his second consecutive game with a deep thigh bruise and three of his teammates continued to miss time with knee injuries, Omer Asik, Greg Smith and Francisco Garcia. Ronnie Brewer also missed Wednesday night’s game with a calf injury. Their reserves consisted of Jeremy Lin, Casspi, Aaron Brooks and rookie Robert Covington.
Despite the thin bench, the reserves scored 38 points, a figure that the Rockets reserves have only topped once in their last 26 games.