Sampson on loss: 'I didn't think it was a good effort'
There are only four teams in the western conference with losing records. The Rockets have lost to three of them now, following their loss at Sacramento, 106-91. They have split a pair of games against Utah (6-20), have lost their only games against the Los Angeles Lakers (11-12) and the Kings (7-15) and beat Memphis (10-13) in their only meeting.
What's even more perplexing is Houston has wins against Portland (21-4) and San Antonio (19-4), the two best teams in the west, and both of those games were in their buildings.
"This game is not a lot different than the Utah game we played last week," Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Sometimes you have to figure out that no matter who you play in this league you have to bring your 'A' game."
Houston lost to Utah 109-103 on Dec. 2, after allowing the Jazz to 36 points in the first quarter, the second-most they've allowed to any team this season in the opening quarter.
"I didn't think we were ready to play tonight," Sampson said. "Tonight, I didn't think it was a good effort. At some point, we have to learn, no matter who we play, we've got to be mentally ready to play and have the right mindset going in.
"We're letting too many of these games slip away."
The Rockets had six turnovers in the first quarter and missed all five of their 3-pointers, yet managed to still be tied at the end of the period.
But with the game tied at 36, the Kings went on a 12-2 run, during which the Rockets missed six consecutive free throws and committed three of their 17 turnovers.
"We came out sluggish. We didn't come out with the aggression and energy like we needed to in order to win this game," Rockets guard James Harden said. "Another loss for us."
The Rockets were also out-rebounded for the third consecutive game. They had been out-rebounded only four times prior to that. They are 2-5 when losing the battle of the boards.